Well, Hello Dolly! (Aw C'mon, Someone Had to Say It): Updated--Putting Dolly to Bed and Hoping She Causes Little Suffering

Update 10:30a EDT 22 JUN, From Chuck Watson at KAC/UCF:

This was a great event for us from a research standpoint, especially for improving our platform evacuation models. One of the hardest things to model is human behavior. We have the guidelines that are used to trigger evacuations programmed into our oil/gas model, but how those guidelines are implemented varies from storm to storm based on judgment, so we make modifications based on how folks have acted in the past. Most forecasts were showing 15-20% shut in for two days, but it looks like we got less than 5%. Given the size and intensity forecast of the storm, fewer platforms/rigs were evacuated than the models would have predicted, so we will tweak that part of the oil/gas model once we get the final evacuation/shut-in numbers.

We take track data from the forecast models, as well as the official track, as the inputs for our oil/gas model. Most of the hurricane forecast models over-estimated Dolly's intensity and strengthening, and were north of the actual track so far. This also contributed to the overestimate of evacuation based shut in production. It is important to realize that a small wobble has a bit impact out there. Only one model (GFDL) showed actual damage to the GOM infrastructure, and that was only for a single forecast (yesterday), so that wasn't too bad.

Chuck has put together a dynamically updating page that will reflect the latest damage models/forecasts at this link: KAC/UCF models. Chuck's forecasts were a very important part of our Katrina and other coverage a few years back, and we thank him for his help and information.

Otherwise, let's put this one to bed and hope that as few people are affected by this storm as possible.

Dolly was forecasted by some to make landfall in various places along the Texas coast Wednesday PM. The Oil Drum is not going into red alert at this time; however, this is a similar enough track to the one taken by Rita in 2005 that Dolly should be paid attention to--and we hope our friends on the Texas coast are paying attention to this dynamic storm.

There's a lot of resources we accumulated from Rita under the fold, but we'd like to find updated materials if you know of them. Recent refinery maps, recent rig maps in the gulf, recent gas fields, SPR facilities, the Intercoastal Canal, pipeline stations and transfer points, etc., etc. Leave links in the comments please.

A resource worth watching: Friend of TOD Chuck Watson has put together a dynamically updating page that will reflect the latest damage models/forecasts at this link: KAC/UCF models. Chuck's forecasts were a very important part of our Katrina and other coverage a few years back, and we thank him for his help and information. (On current track, which the weather geeks at http://easternuswx.com (and I use the term "geek" in kinship...) and Jeff Masters at WU (updated 20:00 EDT) both seem to think there are chances that Dolly can shift north, but no one knows how much. Thus far, this looks to likely be a natural gas and infrastructure event, but also with a decent amount of oil shut-in short-term. However, that can change, especially if Dolly slows down, she's over some hot water.)

Also, here's the EIA's Texas Resources page. It will also likely come in handy.

More under the fold. This may end up being a non-event, however, it is better to be prepared than not.


Here's another good resource for infrastructure maps and such. (scroll down a bit)

Here's a map from CNN with large and small refineries laid out. (though it is an old storm track)

Here's a list of refining capacity and percentages of overall capacity by area inside the region. (thanks Jaymax) We're talking about 20% of US refining capacity folks.

Here's a listing of all oil related industry (refining, etc) in Texas.

Very detailed piece by RIGZONE on rigs and other infrastructure in the area. (thanks mw)

Here's a beautiful flash graphic of the oil refineries and rig maps, emphasizing Beaumont and Galveston's importance. Click on oil production. Note the many rigs on the east side of the storm that will get the brunt of the damage from the NE quad of the storm...hence the high long-term GOMEX oil production damage estimates below.

Here's what were the latest MMS shut in numbers from Rita pre-landfall.

And Here's the probably the best MMS map I could find. Very detailed and lots of interesting stuff. (VERY big .pdf warning)

Prof G, I'm getting "errors" and "does not exist" on the links above.

To be more specific: "awesome interactive map"

got it. of course that was the only link I hadn't tried. :)

Imports into the US Gulf are very low. Shut-in and events will have very large impact on inventories.

Inventories are already trending lower in the Gulf:

Inventories are already near historic lows:

October '07 seems to be a turning point on the Imports chart. The yellow line (I'm assuming that's '07) breaks out of the yearly pattern to the downside, which continues with the '08 blue line. Two other events of note occured simultaneously in October '07. Russia, the other mega exporter besides Saudi Arabia, had barely been keeping up with the demand increases from the BRIC countries. But their much appreciated production climb turned in October into a continuing decline. The other October event was the beginning of the sharp oil price climb from $80 to now. Is this what OPEC calls a well supplied market?

This is my 6/2/08 missive (with help from PG, and with a data table by Datamunger) on the Gulf Coast situation:


We are seeing two large consuming regions facing problems with proximal producing regions--Europe (with North Sea and Russia) and the US (with Venezulea and Mexico). At their recent rate of decline, net oil exports from Mexico--our #3 source of imported crude oil--could approach zero as soon as late 2010. Extrapolating out Venezuela's current rate of decline suggests that they could approach zero net oil exports in about 20 years or so.

Europe and the US (even though they are showing mostly declining consumption) are still having to start replacing short supply lines with much longer supply lines--as some regions in the world, such as China, are trying to boost their imports to meet higher demand.

Didn't realize we already had a dedicated Dolly thread. I'm moving these over from the DrumBeat....

Shell evacuating western Gulf of Mexico workers

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Shell Oil Co began flying workers from platforms in the western Gulf of Mexico on Sunday ahead of Tropical Storm Dolly, according to a statement issued by the company on Monday.

Shell said there was no impact to production in the Gulf from Sunday's evacuations or from plans to pull additional workers from platforms that may be in path of the first storm of the Atlantic hurricane season to menace offshore oil and natural gas production areas.

Natural Gas Declines on Outlook Storm Will Not Pare Gulf Output

(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas in New York declined on an outlook the path of a tropical storm near the Gulf of Mexico will miss gas and oil production areas.

The projected path of the storm takes it across the Yucatan Peninsula north of Campeche Bay, where Petroleos Mexicanos produces about 1.07 million barrels of oil a day. Pemex isn't evacuating workers from its platforms, the company said today. U.S. forecasters said there is a 29 percent chance Tropical Storm Dolly may strengthen to a hurricane after it enters the Gulf.

For those of us not familiar with platforms - how does production not get affected with evacuations?

rage et al:

There is actually a very detailed protocol for shutting down both production and drilling operations offshore as mandated by the Feds. The prime consideration is placing plugs ("storm chokes") in the well bores that would prevent oil/gas from being released to the surface should the whole facility be destroyed. Depending on the facility size this can take 24 to 36 hours. The same is true for a drilling well even if no hydrocarbons have been penetrated. And on any given day there are 25,000+ personnel working offshore. Most of the transport is by helicopter and there are only so many. This is the biggest problem with evacuation plans: it takes so long to completely shutdown and remove all personnel it has to be started before anyone is certain where the storm is going or how big it might get. Turning the production back on can take a couple of days also. So even a small storm that doesn't hit a heavily producing area can shut down all production for 4+ days. So a bunch of small storms can collectively hurt cumulative production as much as a big one.

Thanks for the detailed explanation. The company's statement "no impact to production" is what I had an issue with. I guess I'm skeptical of that.

I think that translates to "don't sell our stock until we know for sure," or something to that effect.

Nobody wants to cry wolf.

No workers means no production from what I read in rockman's post. The company's statement is misleading. Pemex also has misleading and contradictory statements - one article says "operating normally" and another says an export terminal is closed.

Hello Rockman,

Thxs for the detailed explanation on how cumulative 'non-events' can still pileup over time eventually causing possible GoM platform production shortages hitting the refineries ashore.

In the same vein, if closely-spaced, sequential 'non-event' GoM storms really start to backlog VLCCs from GoM refinery docking: how long can they wait before a tankerload, say originally intended for Houston, is then sent to some other port [Rotterdam or some other Europort]?

I have no idea as to the answer to this question, but I would suspect that Lloyd's of London, and other ship insurance cos. do not want VLCCs to traverse very high seas in a GoM 'non-event'. More profitable to send the tanker elsewhere because the only escape routes from the GoM is the Yucatan Slot or the Florida Strait.

Does this post have any merit, or do the VLCCs routinely run safely through very high seas spreading out around the outside periphery of a GoM storm?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hadn't though about tanker traffic disruptions. Off La. the big boys don't usually come into port anyway. There's an offshore transfer system they'll tie off to and unload. I'm sure it shuts down just like the platforms. The tankers can try to scoot around the storms but they may not always be able to avoid a fast storm. I don't know but I would bet they keep them out of the Gulf when a big one is coming. I doubt they reroute them very far unless there is a long term disruptions...those big boys burn a lot of fuel when they're loaded. As far as TX goes I'm not sure the big ones come up thru the bay. I vaguely remember hearing that they transfer to smaller tankers offshore. Living within sound of the tanker horns you'd think I'd know for sure (I live across the highway from the biggest refinery in the US)

Here's a link to an image of the current positions of registered merchant marine traffic in the GOM. Traffic has pretty well cleared out of the path between Cantarell & the TX/LA coasts. Don't have any data on what "normal" traffic looks like for this region, but this is a pretty cool tool.

For example, scroll down on the page an click on "Gaschem Juemme." You'll see that it's a liquid tanker and is moving north as quickly as it can from its prior position at 0000 GMT at the latitude of the TX/MX border to the latitude of Corpus Chirsti at 1800 GMT.

Thanks for posting that. I knew there was something I needed to get from you. (sorry...)

Far-fetched example?

Imagine a VLCC with a broken rudder being helplessly storm wave pushed towards the Thunderhorse Platform. The seafloor is too deep for any anchoring. The owner of that ship would be money ahead to evacuate the crew, then have the USAF sink the ship BEFORE it hits Thunderhorse. It would still make a hell of a mess, but far less of a mess than having a mega-tanker repeatedly bashing into a mega-platform until both sunk.

San Francisco did the same strategy after their 1906 earthquake: explode housing to try and create a firebreak to halt the firestorm.

...Worst of all, many were set when firefighters untrained in the use of dynamite attempted to dynamite buildings to create firebreaks, which resulted in the destruction of more than half of buildings that would have otherwise survived.[9] The fire chief, who would have been responsible, had died in the initial quake. The dynamited buildings themselves often caught fire. The fires lasted for four days and nights...

Our local paper led with "Hello, Dolly" as well.

I learned a lot from the Rita Evacuation Debacle, but it isn't really pertinant to TOD. I'm thinking this could be a non-event, but the water is warm enough that if everything else matches up, it could strengthen quickly. Aren't they still tracking for Brownsville?

Jeff Masters blog is an incredible resource for figuring out what is happening with Hurricanes.

It has been a very active season already, very early...

He is predicting a good chance of Dolly turning toward Corpus Christi.


"The latest GFDL and HWRF models runs from 2 am EDT this morning have shifted significantly north, bringing Dolly ashore near Corpus Christi, Texas.... Dolly will probably grow quite large and affect a 200-mile stretch of coast with tropical storm-force winds. Like her namesake, actress Dolly Parton, Dolly the tropical cyclone appears destined to become a media star."

Tropical Storm Dolly May Become Hurricane in Gulf

(Bloomberg) -- Tropical Storm Dolly entered the Gulf of Mexico, where it may strengthen into a hurricane in the next day while sparing Mexico's state-owned oil rigs. A hurricane watch was issued for Texas's southern coast.

...``The storm is not expected to affect U.S. oil and natural- gas operations in the Gulf,'' AccuWeather.com forecaster Kate Wotring said in an e-mail. Heavy rains and high surf could hit the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Mexico by tomorrow, bringing waves of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters), Wotring said.

Exxon begins preparations ahead of Dolly

"ExxonMobil is determining which of its facilities may potentially be in the path of the storm, preparing those structures for heavy wind and rain, and identifying nonessential personnel for possible evacuation to shore," said Margaret Ross, a spokeswoman for the company.

It's all just more and more scare tactics!

"... this is a similar enough track to the one taken by Rita in 2005 that Dolly should be paid attention to ..."



Rita was a category 5 hurricane. This storm won't likely be over water long enough to become a category 1 storm.


If you wanna read something scary, try this:


This may end up being a non-event, however, it is better to be prepared than not.

Although the storm seems to have been heavily disrupted by the landfall, it sure looks to me like it took a significant turn toward the north in the last few frames of the animation at the NHC website...

In one of those delightful New Orleans moments, I was talking with the owner and weekend chef at my favorite fine dining restaurant (Citron Bistro, located in what is probably the oldest building in town, a 1740s or so Jesuit hospital).

His day job is with Emergency Planning for the City of New Orleans. He had a couple of insights (no Cat 3 after Sept 22 on Gulf Coast). The most interesting is that a prolonged (month plus) high pressure system needs to be sitting over Texas to give enough energy for a Car 5 or even Cat 4 (maybe for Cat 4).

The above average fresh water from the Mississippi River this year should prevent such an intense high pressure system from forming, and also disrupt Gulf heating (also required for Cat 5) as well.

Best Hopes for cold fresh water,


Amen, and amen.

For those of you who interpret these efforts we make on informing folks as schadenfreude, you're just wrong.

One of our jobs here is to inform and discuss. We take it seriously. Getting out in front of things is the best way to learn and inform, last I checked.

(And maybe we will jinx the storm and turn it into a completely unimportant area...which is silly, but hey...)

Hurricanes can be very educational. For example, for all its destruction, Katrina proved to be provocatively educational for the country and the world; and it continues to provide an education. I expect Dolly to be educational too as it's projected to hit a very poor region of Texas with a high proportion of Mexican-American citizens, not to neglect the even poorer Mexicans south of the border.

It doesn't even have to be a hurricane to cause problems. Remember Tropical Storm Allison?

I live 200 miles inland, so the most we get from any of these systems is a lot of rain. But sometimes a lot of rain can be a bad thing.

U.S. oilpatch braces for year's first big storm

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Offshore oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday geared up to prepare for the first big storm of 2008, but Tropical Storm Dolly looked unlikely to deal a crippling blow to U.S. crude oil and natural gas production.

However, oil markets reacted nervously to news that Shell Oil Co had began flying workers from platforms in the western Gulf of Mexico. U.S. crude oil futures rose $3 to over $132 a barrel earlier on Monday, and were up $1.53 at $130.41 a barrel by 2:10 p.m. EDT (1810 GMT).

Why it is not that much of an oil event, and more a nat gas and infrastructure event...

spinning wheel of doom


Here's the IR (from Weather Underground)

And latest forecast track from NHC

Edit: Here's the 5pm (Eastern) NHC position with 5pm satellite visible. Looks like an eye could be forming but it's early yet.

Latest update (7AM CDT)

Tropical Storm DOLLY Public Advisory

700 AM CDT TUE JUL 22 2008




First visible image of the day should be available soon.

If you're in the path of Dolly, prepare now as the warning says, don't panic and best wishes.

Latest HWRF (6am UTC) model for 0000 (UTC) 24 July (7pm CDT 23 July) has Dolly tracking further north. Official NHC projection remains still close to Mexico/Texas border.

And here's the eye-wall now showing clearly on Radar. X marks Dolly's position (10:30AM CDT)

Still nobody seems bothered by this judging by the oil price...

As storms go, she isn't that bad. Moving a little too quickly to gain much strength. The state is preparing for a Cat II, since she's forecast to only be Cat I. Cat II does not indicate mandatory evacuations and all that entails.

I worked for a helicopter transport company doing evacs, and the general rule is quickly becoming to evacuate the instant that a named storm enters anywhere in the gulf. Very costly move, but i've seen the damages after several storms first hand..

We're preparing to shut down onshore drilling activites in S TX. High winds are dangerous to tall standing derricks. Any impact on onshore production will be tiny compared to overall US production though.

From recon aircraft, Dolly winds just measured moments ago at Hurricane strength. May officially become Hurricane Dolly any time now.

Latest info at http://www.storm2k.org/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=101807&st=0&sk=t&sd=a...

Edit: Officially now Hurricane Dolly (CNN breaking news)

Here's the 4:00 CDT public advisory:

Statement as of 4:00 PM CDT on July 22, 2008

...Dolly becomes a hurricane...the second of the 2008 hurricane

A Hurricane Warning remains in effect for the coast of Texas from
Brownsville to Corpus Christi...and for the northeast coast of
Mexico from Rio San Fernando northward to the border between Mexico
and the United States. Preparations to protect life and property
should be rushed to completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect from north of Corpus
Christi to San Luis Pass.

A Tropical Storm Warning and a Hurricane Watch is in effect from La
Pesca to south of Rio San Fernando.

For storm information specific to your area...including possible
inland watches and warnings...please monitor products issued
by your local weather office.

At 400 PM CDT...2100z...the center of Hurricane Dolly was located
near latitude 24.6 north...longitude 95.3 west or about 165 miles...
265 km...east-southeast of Brownsville Texas.

Dolly is moving toward the northwest near 10 mph...17 km/hr.
This motion should bring the core of Dolly near northeastern Mexico
or extreme southern Texas on Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds have increased to near 75 mph...120
km/hr...with higher gusts. Dolly is a category one hurricane on
the Saffir-Simpson scale. Some strengthening is forecast before

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 15 miles...30 km...from
the center...and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 160
miles...260 km. Tropical storm force winds should begin to reach
the coasts of northeast Mexico and southern Texas later tonight.

Minimum central pressure reported by a hurricane hunter aircraft was
986 mb...29.12 inches.

Dolly is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 6 to 10
inches...with isolated amounts of 15 inches...over much of south
Texas and northeastern Mexico over the next few days.

Coastal storm surge flooding of 4 to 6 feet above normal tide
levels...along with large and dangerous battering waves...can be
expected near and to the north of where the center makes landfall.

A few tornadoes are possible overnight across the lower and middle
Texas coasts.

Repeating the 400 PM CDT position...24.6 N...95.3 W. Movement
toward...northwest near 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds...75 mph.
Minimum central pressure...986 mb.

An intermediate advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane
Center at 700 PM CDT followed by the next complete advisory at 1000

Officials fear Dolly could break Rio Grande levees

McALLEN, Texas - Coastal officials worried Tuesday that Tropical Storm Dolly may bring so much rain that flooding could break through the levees holding back the Rio Grande.

Officials urged residents to move away from the levees because if Dolly continues to follow the same path as 1967's Hurricane Beulah, "the levees are not going to hold that much water," said Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Johnny Cavazos.

Since the news on Dolly is quiet now, how about a little humor on potential future hurricanes?

News from Weather Underground (Jeff Master's blog):

Dolly's central pressure dropped 15 mb in the 18 hours previous to that, so this is an impressive sudden drop this morning. Radar imagery out of Brownsville, Texas shows an well-organized hurricane, with excellent spiral banding and a 20-mile diameter eye. Visible satellite loops show an impressive eye, excellent upper-level outflow, and good symmetry. It's a good thing Dolly does not have another 24 hours over water, or it would have become a major hurricane. It takes a while for the winds of a hurricane to respond to a rapid pressure fall, and Dolly's winds do not yet reflect the recent big drop in pressure. The peak surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument on the latest Hurricane Hunter mission were 70 knots (81 mph), at 9:17 am EDT. Dolly's winds should rise above 100 mph in the next few hours.

Dolly supplied perhaps the prettiest sunset I have seen in Austin (lived here ten years now). Last evening I was walking my dog, and from a hilltop near my house I could see the tops of thunderheads off in the soutwest. The fading sun lit up all the wispy overhead clouds in pastel shades of red and orange. And because it was interrupted here and there by tall distant unseen clouds, there were deep blue "rays" of shadow all converging back toward the setting sun.

[edit 4:20 PM CDT] And she sent us some rain in droughty Central Texas! Thank you, Dolly!