Weakening Ida Still Threatens Gulf Industry

Tropical Storm Ida, downgraded from a hurricane, will nonetheless cause problems for Gulf of Mexico industries -- none more than energy.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Though downgraded from a hurricane Monday, Tropical Storm Ida nonetheless stands to cause some problems for a bevy of publicly traded companies as it churns north in the Gulf of Mexico toward landfall, expected Tuesday morning, along the coastline between Louisiana and the Florida panhandle.

Oil companies, clearly, have already seen operations disrupted by the storm. Monday morning,


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said it expects that the evacuation of workers from its offshore rigs in the gulf, as well as refineries along the coast, will impede its operations there.

>> Photo Gallery: Tropical StormIda

The company also said it was working to secure its Pascagoula refinery, situated on the Mississippi coast, from the storm's landfall.

Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico draw a quarter of the crude oil and 15% of the natural gas produced by the U.S. annually. Last year, two hurricanes -- Gustav and Ike -- combined to reduce crude production by some 6 billion barrels.

Worker evacuations -- and even rescues -- have already begun. BP has cut back on production.

Royal Dutch Shell




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Exxon Mobile

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have all removed personnel from offshore platforms.

Royal Dutch and Andarko said their moves have, so far, not impinged on production.

Oil prices broke through $80 a barrel Monday, but traders said that a weakening dollar had more to do with the uptick than a weakening Ida.

Already, Chevron had to rescue two people early Monday morning from an oil rig positioned about 80 miles south of New Orleans. Workers feared it was on the verge of collapse as Ida bore down. A boat tied to the platform broke from its moorings and collided with the rig's main structure, the

Associated Press

reported. The workers were uninjured and the rig remained standing.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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