Hurricane Katrina and Thunder Horse/Gulf Oil Production (Kat now potentially a Cat 4?)

Update [2005-8-27 0:15:36 by Prof. Goose]:This information is somewhat dated, look to the post above this for the most current information.

[editor's note, by Prof. Goose]This is a modified repost of an article HO did on 9 JUL about Dennis and Gulf oil production, (and then here's a story of what happened to Thunder Horse), so we could get a map up of oil platforms in relation to Katrina's whereabouts...her path looks to be slightly east of Dennis' (Dennis' path is the first pic...(The black dot on the edge of the green and yellow zones south of New Orleans, in the first map represents the Thunder Horse platform which is scheduled to ramp up until it is producing 250,000 bd of oil at a water depth of about 6,000 ft.), Katrina's probability swath is the second picture, Katrina's current models are the third, TH listing is the fourth) at this time, but it's early days on path prediction as you can see from the pic.

HO may get to post something on these developments today, but I wanted to get this information up.

Update [2005-8-26 11:16:36 by Prof. Goose]:Weather porn for you from the latest advisory (found at via

As the path of Hurricane Katrina becomes clearer it is interesting to contrast this with the location of the major new fields that are currently being developed in the Gulf.  A detailed map of their location can be found at Rigzone but for the sake of simple reference I have put a couple of dots on the map that I took from the NOAA site showing the projected path for Dennis.

The black dot on the edge of the green and yellow zones south of New Orleans, represents the Thunder Horse platform which is scheduled to ramp up until it is producing 250,000 bd of oil at a water depth of about 6,000 ft.

The white dot further out and in the blue zone nearer the left side, represents the Mad Dog  development that will ramp up to 100,000 bd; the Holsteindevelopment  that will also produce, at peak, around 100,000 bd of oil; and the Atlantis field that will begin production next year and will ramp up to around 200,000 bd in all.

Put together these projects have the potential of around 650,000 bd, but as can be seen, they are sitting in an uncomfortable spot relative to the tracks of the hurricanes.

And with the hurricane season showing the promise of being worse than usual, this has the potential not just to threaten completion of these projects, but also in the years to come posing some threat to their continued ability to reach the target levels required in the times of the year that will be most critical (from now through the end of the year).  As J has pointed out before, there is only a certain amount of repair capacity available, and if the storms keep coming, this will diminish overall the supply that we will increasingly need.

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Press Releases about Thunder Horse became rather scarce during August. I think BP is worried about spooking investors.

If we're going to drill for oil in 10,000 feet of water, there are plenty of risks.  Hurricanes are just one of the many.

Isn't Katrina the eight named storm to pass through the gulf this season?  And it's not even September yet!

Looking at the picture of Thunder Horse listing to the side reminds me of that bathtub that I cam back from Germany on in 1956,  We were in rough weather most of the way, and I had my head stuck through one of the holes at the edge of the deck barfing every 5 min. or so. and walking on the thing was impossible .

the hermit

One of the problems in the future with Thunder Horse (and all deep water drilling projects) should the platform sink, there is the potential for the structure to land on the subsea well heads.  I am amazed that there has not been a significant accident where offloading of supply vessels hasn't created such problems where loads are occaisonally dropped over the side.  

I think Thunder Horse was close to the limit where the flip starts.  These semi TLP's flip upside down once ballast get past a certain point.  Google Ocean Ranger.

Katrina models now finally catching up with the westward reality... looks like it may follow the path of IVAN yet, almost smack on the Mississipi Delta. I hope the poor folks of Mobile area are spared but that might make it worse and have it hit New Orleans and affect Thunderhorse and Mad Dog more.

Regardless... the track is now far more westward than earlier this am....

Actually perhaps a little farther west than Mobile. Navy Site has more detailed maps:

J says:  The eastern GOM is already under evac, and central GOM due to follow suit shortly. If the storm follows the western Florida coastline, damage will be minimal or non-existent to everything except possibly the Mobile Bay deep gas wells. If you look at a map, you can see there is a large bay-like area between the "boot" of Louisiana and Mobile Bay. This is the Main Pass area, and it is home to a lot of oil production. Water depth in most of this area is less than 50 feet. The wellheads, caissons and platforms are numerous enough to swim from one to another most of the way to Mississippi.

The more critical stuff (TLP's, FPSO's, Thunderhorse, etc) are clustered in the deep water offshore of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It will not take much change in direction to impact these structures. But as long as the storm is east of these areas, the worst will be avoided.

Remembering also that it's the front right quadrant of the storm that is the worst.
J - Good detail.

Futures markets had soft support today - the sell off I'm convinced was low-conviction, low-volume driven into a Friday and at a time when computer models had Katrina well to the west. Amateur weather forecasters all of us now.

I'm fairly certain that any selling would have been better contained if traders saw tracks trending to the west of Mobil. I'm also surprised that traders were willing to make bets based on models before the turn had actually started... not a move I would, or did, make.

After all, Ivan 2004 was the third most costly hurricane ever to hit the US and its leading edge hit Alabama/Florida; if current trends persist, the leading edge will be much closer to important stuff than last years storm.

By the time crude re-opens in London and here in two days there should be a much better idea of track and thus risk.

By the time crude re-opens in London and here in two days there should be a much better idea of track and thus risk.

Just watch where Jim Cantore is broadcasting from on Saturday night / Sunday morning.  That should tell you who's about to get slammed :)

If you care to make a small wager on how Katrina will impact prices Monday, visit and click "crude oi" ($100 deposit required to open an account).
That Katrina is 'ornery. I've been watching her here, and as of 9:45pm Pacific, she's still heading west south west in complete disregard of what those nice meteorologists told her to do (turn sharp right past Florida and go North).

The model now shows the total destruction of New Orleans, but I'm not sure I believe it.

The curve appears to be happening... and all the models have stayed glued on New Orleans for sometime.

Soon it won't matter. A little farther east and N.O. will get the full fury of the leading edge (east front of the storm), a little farther west and virtually all of the big GOM production areas will get hurricane cat 5 winds.

Perhaps sea conditions or other factors might mitigate damage and make this less than it appears now, but from an oil perspective only we can assume it will be as bad as Ivan and then some.

Weather bulletin linked elsewhere here reads like the plot of a B-movie: