Hurricane Dean's Impact on Oil Infrastructure


This post is a collection of different Google Earth based mashups of various weather data, oil infrastructure overlays and excellent impact maps established by Chuck Watson (see also PG's post for a list of resources on Mexico oil infrastructure). The list of Google Earth files (kml/kmz files) used in this post can be find on my blog. There is now a good likelihood that Dean will impact significantly the Cantarell and the KMZ oil complex which constitute the backbone of the Mexican production.

I will try to update this post during the day as soon as new forecasts are available.

Cantarell and KMZ oil complex, forecast track and wind strength distribution (the purple area is at least tropical storm winds) from yesterday night run (21:00 UTC). Click to Enlarge.

Forecast track possibility along with "spaghetti models" from yesterday night run (21:00 UTC). The blue squares along the US coast are the major oil platforms. Click to Enlarge.

Hurricane Dean Impact forecast established by Chuck Watson where Red is moderate damage and purple is severe damage. Click to Enlarge.

Hurricane Dean surge forecast established by Chuck Watson where red is a storm surge > 6 m. Click to Enlarge.

Wind strength distribution.Click to Enlarge.

Model tracks surimposed on SST values, Note that SST values are relatively cooler (28-29 deg. C)  around the Cantarell complex.Click to Enlarge.

Tropical storm (sub-hurricane) winds are very unlikely to cause lasting damage. Even Cat I winds are not that big a deal. Surely Pemex built to at least that standard.

Wave action is also unlikely to be that large. Cantarell is on the "good side" of Dean according to latest projections.

I foresee a week to ten day shut-down of production (which will have an impact) and that is about it unless the path shifts south.

Further up the coast, with the second landfall, things will likely be worse.

Best Hopes for a Northerly track,


OK, I'll buy a weeks shutdown from a cat 1.

Whats a cat 2 going to do, given Janet in 1955 hit Yucatan as a cat 5 and exited west as cat 2 ?

Ian Whitchurch


I have no personal knowledge of the design standards of offshore platforms in the area, but hurricanes are not rare. Pemex has 13,000 workers that have been evacuated, I would susoect that it will take a week after the hurricane passes to get them back and things back to normal, and the hurricane is still in the Carribean moving west at 20 mph, according to
I expect lower production through Sept. 1
Bob Ebersole

Perhaps they were built to withstand something stronger than this, but the question I have is how well these things have been maintained. Without proper maintenance, the rigs could be significantly weaker than they were when originally built.


I think you are right, not much damage will happen. Especially if it comes out as a CAT1 over cooler waters.

Any production shutin will be very temporary.

Echoing below, Dean still could do something unexpected. But Dean's track has been a straight line so far.

Regardless of what Dean does, the Export Land Model (ELM) decline in net exports from Mexico is proceeding. The EIA shows that Mexican net exports declined from 1.9 mbpd in 2004 to 1.7 mbpd in 2006 (Total Liquids), a decline rate of 5.5% per year.

Because of the Cantarell production decline/crash and because of Mexico's relatively high consumption as a percentage of production, I actually expect Mexico to show a net export decline rate that is comparable to the ELM decline.

Remember, the ELM (for a hypothetical country) shows that the decline rate in net exports should accelerate with time.

BTW, I just noticed something interesting. The initial decline rate in net exports from Mexico, from 2004 to 2005, was 11%. The decline rate from 2005 to 2006 slowed quite a bit, because domestic consumption fell--probably because of a decline in cash transfers from Mexican workers in the US (because of the US housing slowdown).

The initial first year decline rate in the ELM is about 12%.

Professor Goose,
Thank you for staying on top of Hurricane Dean. In my opinion its way too early to be complacent about this storm, its not even hit the Yucatan yet all people seem convinced its still no threat to the United States.

These storms are so big and have so much energy they may behave differently from the models. IMHO its prudent for all Gulf Coast residents to keep watching until Dean it totally disappated after going inland.

I'm surprised that the oil markets seem so calm. Mexico supplies about 10% of the oil imported into the US, and more than half is produced from the area of the storm track projection. Yet the word is to sell contracts, according to CNBC even though PEMEX is shutting in the fields.Bob Ebersole


A manic calm.

We err on the side of growth.

Resilience is a cuss word.

As the Fed is tightening credit. Putting a Discount Window
"Band Aid on a Sucking Chest Wound"(Kunstler's Latest).

And we still don't know what that "Low" approaching Brownsville is doing.

These days I watch MSNBC in the morning. The Financial reporter was apparently hired because she is cute - she repeatedly says things that are either stupid or misleading. I am guessing that she just parrots the thinking of the folks on Wall St. without really understanding it very deeply.

Last week she had a comment to the effect that "people should be aware that if we try and clean up the lead paint issues, that prices at wal-mart will increase". Well she got beat up over that one, and Jon Stewart even made fun of it.

This morning she was ragging on all of the talk of reducing foreign imports, and how most of our imports come from Canada and Mexico, and little comes from other countries. Almost like she was saying that it was all a fuss over nothing I guess. Apparently nobody bothered to tell her what 'fungible' means.

She was also talking about how the financial community was relieved that the hurricane was missing U.S. oil & gas rigs in GOMEX, but she never stopped to consider that it was going for Mexico's, and what that might mean.

I think you're jealous that she's so cute...;)

I think he's jealous because she gets paid big bucks for being an air-head.

Thanks for the great work!
A friend who has fished down there said its like 20 feet deep out 2 miles or so - If true that might make a hurricane in their a bit more problematic - do you have ability to get water depths, since you are a Google-Earth Master???

Yes, it's possible:

I've updated my list of files.

Wall Street says "Move along folks...nothing to see here."

Crude Oil Falls as Hurricane Forecast to Miss Gulf Platforms

By Matthew Leising

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell after forecasters said Hurricane Dean would probably miss the largest oil-production regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

Dean, an ``extremely dangerous'' Category 4 hurricane, is heading for Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula after leaving a trail of damage across Jamaica, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. oil output, mostly off the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

``You can see the storm is heading south into the Yucatan,'' said Tom Bentz, a broker at BNP Paribas in New York. ``The models are showing there's a slightly greater chance it doesn't hit the refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. If the storm is not in the picture, this thing goes down.''

They go on to predict $67 oil and no production increase from OPEC in September.

The first GE image shows Dean passing just north of the Cantarell complex. Since hurricanes are cyclonic and cyclones in the northern hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise, Dean should be pulling water from the gulf to the Cantarell platforms (i.e. winds at the platform will be out of the northwest/north).

Which is much worse than if the wind were blowing offshore.

Agreed that there will likely be more input (in the form of rain) from the Gulf if Dean passes north of the Cantarell complex, but I'm pretty sure (I do live in Florida) the wind may not be worse even though it is unimpeded by land. Here is the effect that makes me think this:

Because the storm is traveling West, stationary objects on the North side of the eye will get the rotational velocity of the storm added to the translational velocity of the eye....on the South side of the eye, Vt is subtracted from Vr. It's not much of an effect, but 18 mph can be important when added to those high rotational speeds.

Let your views be known:

It is just a wind speed problem to begin with as the 'fetch' is so short off the beach. No room for a big wave to develop. The backswing from a reestablishing storm after it has passed will send waves onto the shelf which has a magnifying effect. I think the wind is pretty insignificant; it's the waves that are a bigger worry. That said, I'm not seeing any direct damage to come due to location, but shutting down and removing the crews is only prudent.

On the other hand, I have no idea what size wave these platforms are built for so if you have fifteen feet of freeboard and a twenty foot wave on top of a surge... product testing time.

By the way, if a storm is moving 20 mph, the difference between the leading and trailing edges is 40 mph, unless I'm missing something. It's equivalent to the top of a tire going twice vehicle speed and the bottom being fixed.

Batter UP!



No recurving likely, no shear, warm water for development - East coast and Florida path.

Just another one to watch.

Dr. Jeff Masters comment on 92L at his blog:

"...this system will definitely be a threat to the U.S. if it develops."

Scroll down to "New disturbance 92L to watch"

Not bad, but you need to look farther east. Look at the blob just starting to approach west coast of Africa. Same moisture chaser as Dean had. That's the ticket.

Comments from a weatherboard I follow re Cantarell:

1. The oil field is on the south side side of the storm which is less intense
2. The oil fields are pretty close to the eastern shore of the bay of campeche which means they will experience Dean shortly after it exits the yucatan or in other words at it's weakest.
3. The farther S Dean tracks, the more time he will decay over the Yucatan, and the weaker he will be upon emergence into BoC. i.e., the farther (to the N) from Cantarell Dean enters BoC, the stronger he will be, but also the farther from Cantarell the eyewall will be. If Dean's eyewall scores a direct hit on Cantarell, he will be pretty weak by that time. If Dean actually passes just S of Cantarell, he may not even be a 'cane by the time the RFQ hits Cantarell, and would still be land-locked and weakening.

The latest projected windspeeds (that I got from the same sources that Khebab is using with Google Earth) showing hurricane force winds just barely reaching the Cantarell area.

well its tucked away there behind the Yucatan. I doubt a Cat 5 has ever gone there before -so any big wind might be an issue due to waves in the shallow water. Still, the best gauge of oil impact is the market - nat gas getting CRUSHED - down 12% in one day. Oil down $1.50 says this is no impact on oil market. Still early in cane season tho...

Update (14:30 EDT):

Another update from the NHC:

500 PM EDT MON AUG 20 2007



INITIAL 20/2100Z 18.2N 84.2W 130 KT
12HR VT 21/0600Z 18.5N 86.7W 140 KT
24HR VT 21/1800Z 19.3N 90.2W 75 KT...INLAND
36HR VT 22/0600Z 20.2N 93.6W 85 KT
48HR VT 22/1800Z 21.0N 97.0W 95 KT

Looks like the projected track has been moved a bit further southwards...towards Cantarell. The 11 PM EDT update will be interesting.

E. Swanson

Update (21:15 EDT)

Khebab...I hate to say this but I think the hurricane track line is actually going to be a bit further south than what you have shown here.

This monster may stomp right through Cantarell...yikes!

No worries. Cantarell will be in the eye.

The president of Mexico ordered the evacuation of the platforms in the Campeche area yesterday. Thats 13,000 men who must be picked up by crew boats, travel home, take care of their families (I'm sure most of them live near Campeche), then travel back to the crew boat docks and be taken back to their workplaces. This is going to take a minimum of a week, more likely two, even if there is zero damage from the storm before the wells are back on line.

Since 70% of Mexico's production is from offshore in this area, and the rest will be needed for domestic consumption, that means the US will be short of oil about 10% for the next couple of weeks. As the stocks are already low, this means another big price spike, if not some actual shortages, probably in the Houston area as we refine most of the heavy crude in this part of the world because of transportation costs.

People who think this is insignificant are wearing blinders. It takes time to move that many guys by crew boat, and Mexico did the prudent thing starting yesterday even though Dean won't hit the bay of Campeche' until tomorrow. The storm will keep people off the crew boats until Friday or Saturday,more if their homes are damaged or the roads impassable, then it will take two or three days to restaff and start the wells again, assuming no damage. The projection Khebab just posted shows a direct hit, although no one will know for sure until Dave emerges from the Yucatan into the Gulf again.
Bob Ebersole

Thanks, interesting stuff.

If you are correct, it would appear that many on Wall St. are wearing blinders. ;-)

They're not wearing blinders. The sept contract expires on wednesday, and no one wants to hold October oil. It's the worse month of the year.

I agree with the premise that barrels will not be forthcoming, but once the tape goes into retreat, you just can't bet against it. Well you can, but you'll likely lose your money.

That's why I sold this morning despite knowing Mexico was shutting down. You just don't fight the tape on wall st., and like it or not, oil trades in NY and not Cancun.

I'll make you a gentleman's bet there are no shortages and oil doesn't rise above 75$ a barrel in the next week.

As much as it pains me, I probably have to agree with you--because of the SPR.

However, one question that occurs to me is what might happen to the undersea flow lines. I believe that the industry is still working on trying to repair the 2005 damage to the GOM flow lines.

I probably have to agree also, but the World Tribune reported today that unnamed industry sources stated that the UAE would start cutting oil production by up to 25% or over 800,000 barrels a day in the near term due to maintenance issues. This news was on Drudge a short while ago, but has since been removed. I guess oil traders don't think that the UAE maintenance issues would affect imports to this Country from the UAE.
However,the failure to get the price to $75 by September 11 is probably a bullish sign for oil prices later this year because OPEC probably would use lower prices as a reason not to raise production and we know that demand is substantially higher than the present supply.

My take on the UAE situation--and it's just a guess--is that they are having problems with corrosion because of rising water cuts.

Russia and the UAE were the only two of the top five net exporters that showed production increases from 2005 to 2006. My bet is that all of the top five net exporters will show production declines from 2006 to 2007.

I'm only moderately gentlemanly. I often eat with my fingers and belch. If I could predict what the herd was going to do, I'd be very rich. But haven't you been noticing, antidoomer, how the markets are seeming to turn on weird indicators like the inventory at Cushing, Okla. which of course isn't going to be affected by this. Nobody's going to substitute West Texas Intermediate for 18 gravity for their refinery for a two or three week shortage. But it might make for a significant drawdown.

You can definitely claim bragging rights and heap ignomy on my head if I'm wrong,though..
Bob Ebersole

oilmanbob , make him a counterbet for NOT 65$, just to check his insight and nerve !


Moderetly gentlemanly, that's a good one. :)

Found this:

"Shutting the 407 oil wells in the Campeche Sound will result in a production loss of 2.7 million barrels of oil and 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, Pemex said. Of that, about 1.7 million barrels of oil a day is exported from three Gulf ports, where Pemex was loading the final tankers Monday morning before shutting them as well."


Let your views be known:

From MarketWatch

Lacking Concern

Although "Dean will spare much of the Gulf of Mexico's key U.S. [energy] facilities, many of Mexico's will be hard hit," Kerr said in emailed comments. "If the storm is a Category 5, it will most certainly damage facilities there." "We have to remember that we depend on every drop of oil from every region being at full capacity," said Kerr.

"We have to remember that we depend on every drop of oil from every region being at full capacity," said Kerr.

Given that, the market doesn't seem to be as concerned as it should be about Dean, said Neal Ryan, a manager and market analyst for Ryan Oil & Gas Partners.

Dean is set to "roll right over the top of the largest Pemex fields on its current path: Cantarell and the Chicontepec Basin," said Ryan, in emailed comments. Pemex is short for Petróleos Mexicanos, Mexico's state-owned petroleum company.

Yes, We must Strive to Remember. From Bloomberg (linked in above by someone) —
``I don't expect there'll be any significant damage'' to oil production said Gerrit Zambo, an oil trader at BayernLB in Munich, adding that U.S. crude may drop to $67 a barrel if the hurricane threat abates...

``I'm really bearish on crude, like a $15 to $20 per barrel decline between now and December,'' said Daniel Lippe, president of Petral Worldwide Inc. in Houston. ``We're not going to have the disruption of crude production in the Gulf of Mexico to the extent people thought we were, so there's an easy downside for crude.''

Bang 'em together

So you're saying all our ancestors were a bunch of rockers?Bob Ebersole

Excellent post Khebab.

At 916 mb Dean is set to crack the top ten most intense storms in Atlantic Basin history - I would not underestimate this storm! Big question is, whether the PEMEX field has ever seen wind/waves of the magnitude it is likely to see from Dean.

The NHC forecast has Dean emerging into the Bay of Campeche as a Cat 1 hurricane with sustained winds of at least 75 knots, and is anticipating significant reintensification in the Bay.

From the NHC discussion:

If the fetch is such that the reintensifying hurricane's winds are raking the PEMEX field, then significant damage is likely.

Its now a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 160mph. It looks as though it will exit the Yucatan as at least a category 1 storm

Dean has now intensified to Category 5 status, with sustained winds of over 250 km/hr. It's pressure at 914 mb makes it the 9th most intense Atlantic Basin storm in recorded history. Further intensification is possible before landfall overnight..

The 11PM update is up, and it doesn't look good. The forecast has the eye passing directly over Cantarell, with peak windspeeds of 98mph.

Hello Ericy,

Thxs for the NHC update. It also shows Dean's massive rainfall headed straight for the mountains around the bowl of Mexico City by 7pm Wednesday. Can you imagine the world's biggest toilet with no way to flush it?

EDIT: Of course, things could be worse elsewhere in Mexico:
2007: The Summer of Sewage?

"My brother left the water with a sanitary napkin on his head and almost vomited," wrote Ana Maria Palacios.

According to Botello, a severe bout of gastroenteritis landed her daughter in the hospital for a five-day stay two years ago. "The doctor explained to me: 'your child swam in (feces),’" Botello wrote.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

A potential nightmare scenario is developing, with the NHC forecast track of Dean (currently an intensifying Category 5 hurricane) going straight across the Yucatan and emerging just north of the Cantarell complex on the evening of the 21st. Dean is predicted to emerge into the Bay of Campeche as a Category 2 hurricane, and to reintensify in the Bay. Winds will be in excess of 100 mph backing from north, through northwest, to westerly - maximizing fetch the whole time.

Exactly right. NEW THREAD AS OF 1:20 AM EDT, 8/21 UP TOP!!!