Here's a great storm-tracking link to follow the unfolding disaster. From the projected track, I'd guess Morgan City or Lake Charles could bear the brunt of the storm.
Via the Sydney (AU) Morning Herald (Sept. 1):
HURRICANE Gustav strengthened to a "dangerous" category four storm that threatens to strike US oil and natural-gas producers andfiners harder than hurricanes Katrina and Rita did three years ago.
Gustav may become a category five storm as it crosses the Gulf of Mexico.
It has already shut three-quarters of oil output in the region and refineries operated by Valero Energy, the nation's largest refiner, and Exxon Mobil, the largest publicly traded oil company.
The hurricane prompted a special trading session on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
"This storm will prove to be a worst-case scenario for the production region," said Jim Rouiller, a senior energy meteorologist for Planalytics.com. "This storm will be more dangerous than Katrina."
The National Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch as Gustav's winds were estimated at 240kmh as it made landfall in western Cuba and was forecast to pass into the Gulf overnight.
BP, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, Europe's largest oil company, led producers shutting wells and whisking staff ashore.
About 77 per cent of Gulf oil output and 37 per cent of natural-gas production was shut, the US Minerals Management Service said in a statement yesterday.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the nation's largest crude-oil terminal, closed yesterday.
Fields in the Gulf produce 1.3 million barrels a day of oil, about a quarter of US production, and 200 million cubic metres a day of natural gas, 14 per cent of the total, government data show. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 closed 95 per cent of regional offshore output and, along with Hurricane Rita, idled about 19 per cent of US refining capacity.
Exxon Mobil is shutting its Chalmette, Louisiana, refinery.
Non-essential employees have been released so they can evacuate as requested by local officials, Exxon Mobil said in a notice posted on its website yesterday.
The refinery, which can process 192,000 barrels a day, is run by Chalmette Refining, a joint venture between Exxon and state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA. Marathon Oil Corp began closing its 256,000-barrel-a-day Garyville, Louisiana, refinery yesterday, according to a statement posted on its website. Meanwhile, Valero was shutting its St Charles refinery west of New Orleans and may decide today whether to shut its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, spokesman Bill Day said in an emailed message.
Three Louisiana parishes with refineries have ordered mandatory evacuations.
Refinery production slowed at some complexes owned by Shell and Motiva Enterprises LLC, its venture with Saudi Arabian Oil, Shell said in a statement on its website. "The big question for the market is going to be how quickly after Gustav passes will the industry be able to recover and get back online," said Andy Lipow, president of Houston company Lipow Oil Associates.
Enbridge, Canada's largest pipeline company, and its US affiliate closed conduits capable of bringing ashore 189 cubic metres a day of natural gas. Evacuation of Terrebonne Parish shut the flow of 15 million cubic metres a day of gas into the 16,900-kilometre Transco line to the US north-east, owner Williams Cos said in a statement.
Exxon Mobil said yesterday it had shut platforms producing 5000 barrels of oil and 1.4 million cubic metres of natural gas. BP, Europe's second-largest oil company, said it shut production in the Gulf of Mexico and evacuated all staff by noon local time yesterday. Its normal production is equivalent to 290,000 barrels a day from the region. Anadarko Petroleum, the second-largest US independent oil producer, said in a statement on its website yesterday that it had shut the equivalent of 105,000 barrels a day of production, with all of it to be closed tomorrow night.
Shell said it would shut daily production equivalent to 510,000 barrels of oil yesterday. Marathon Oil Corp and Conoco Phillips said they have shut and evacuated all Gulf production platforms. Workers from 45 rigs and 223 production platforms were evacuated as of 12.30pm yesterday, the Minerals Management Service said in a statement on its website. About 998,000 barrels of daily oil production have been shut down in preparation for the storm, as well as 70 million cubic metres of gas.
Crude oil futures on the Nymex fell 13 cents to $115.46 a barrel on August 29 on speculation supplies will be adequate to meet demand after the storm passes. Natural gas futures fell 10.7 cents to $7.943 per million British thermal units. Most US financial markets are closed until September 2 for the Labor Day holiday. Nymex said in an August 29 statement that electronic trading will begin at 2.30pm New York time tomorrow with trades dated September 2.