Gustav and the Louisana Offshore Oil Port -- What do we need to know?
Hurricane Gustav has brushed by the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), where 1.2 million barrels of oil per day is offloaded from supertankers. Here is the recent trajectory of Gustav superimposed on a map of the LOOP area, including Port Fourchon, also of critical importance to the production of oil from the Gulf of Mexico.
The LOOP is an offshore crude oil offloading facility consisting of a central Marine Terminal Platform surrounded by several Single Point Moorings (SPMs) which are tethered to the ocean floor. The platform and moorings are located in the circled region in the lower right corner in the above image. The eye of Gustav passed just over seven miles to the southwest of this area. The MSNBC Hurricane Tracker site has that Gustav was just between category 3 and category 2 status (110-115 mph) as it made the slight jog to the west.
The Marine Terminal (yellow structure in the above image) coordinates vessel traffic in the vicinity of the LOOP, maintaining safe distances between tankers. For oil offloading, tankers are tethered to one of the moorings and flexible hoses bring oil from the tankers and pass it into one of several sea-floor pipelines spanning the 20 mile distance to the Fourchon Booster Station located onshore.
From there, it is piped north to the Clovelly Dome Storage Terminal (45 million barrel capacity) from where it is dispersed to refineries.
The LOOP was not severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina three years ago:
LOOP sustained "no apparent catastrophic damage" and should be able to quickly resume offloading tankers once power is restored to its onshore pipeline systems, a spokesman says.
He tells Platts that utility Entergy (ETR) was working to restore power to the onshore systems, which must be in operation before the offshore terminal can begin unloading crude from tankers. The offshore terminal, 20 miles south of the Louisiana coast, has its own power source.
"Power is our biggest need... It shouldn't take us terribly long to get back once we get power," he says. LOOP could resume offloading vessels once power is restored "probably within a matter of hours."
As for the damage to the LOOP from Gus, we will have to wait and see. Operations were shut down as of the morning of Aug. 31. For the longer term, there are plans to complement the LOOP with a 1.8 million BPD terminal located 36 miles offshore from Freeport, TX: