This column was originally published on RealMoney on Nov. 4 at 2:03 p.m. EST. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
The Gulf of Mexico is coming back.
The Mineral Management Service -- the government arm that measures oil and gas production in the Gulf -- said Thursday that daily production received a big boost: Shut-in oil output declined to 790,610 barrels a day, or 52.7% of total Gulf output, down from 63.9% on Wednesday, and shut-in natural gas production decreased to 4.726 billion cubic feet a day, or 47.3% of daily output, a big improvement from 50.4% on Wednesday.
Still, the impact of hurricane season is significant. More than 77 million barrels of oil production have been lost as a result of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, equaling more than 14% of the annual Gulf production. Lost natural gas production totals more than 396 billion cubic feet, almost 11% of annual production.And problems remain: A whopping 207 offshore platforms remained unattended since Katrina, explaining why 50% of oil and natural gas production remains offline since late August. While Thursday's improvements provide some hope that production will begin to come back more rapidly than it has over the past two months, comments from oil and gas executives are much less sanguine.