Tropical storm Alex was expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday, delaying BP Plc’s (BP.L) (BP.N) efforts to increase siphoning capacity at the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico where some companies evacuated workers.
Alex was forecast to move slowly away from the Yucatan Peninsula over southern Gulf waters and curl northwest to make a second landfall in northern Mexico mid-week.
It is not expected to hurt current oil-capture systems at the BP oil spill or the company’s plans to drill a pair of relief wells intended to plug the leak by August, a BP executive told reporters in Houston. [ID:nN28258499]
As a precautionary measure, Shell Oil Co (RDSa.L), Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) and Apache Corp (APA.N) evacuated nonessential workers from platforms near Alex’s path. Shell also shut subsea production at the Auger and Brutus platforms over the weekend.
Traders and brokers kept a close eye on Alex, but oil prices fell towards $78 per barrel on Monday as most forecasters predicted the storm would pass southwest of major U.S. offshore oil and gas installations in the Gulf of Mexico.
A hurricane watch has been issued for the coast of Texas south of Baffin Bay to La Cruz in Mexico.
The ports of Dos Bocas and Cayo Arcas, which handle 80 percent of Mexico’s oil export shipping in the Gulf, have been closed since Sunday due to strong surf in the area.
State-run oil giant Pemex [PEMX.UL] said its platforms in the Campeche Sound continued to work normally on Monday although it suspended helicopter flights to and from the facilities.
Pemex said it is monitoring wind and surf conditions caused by Alex. Its Isla del Carmen port, not essential for oil shipments, has been closed since Sunday night.
Barbara Blakely, a spokeswoman for Shell, told Reuters the company was closely monitoring Alex’s advance in the Gulf but that its LNG plant in Altamira, Mexico was working as usual.