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Gulf Storm Threat Sparks Rig Evacuations
Gulf of Mexico energy platforms began evacuations and shutdowns as a weather system off the Yucatan Peninsula threatened to turn into a tropical storm over the weekend.
Theres a 90 percent chance the cluster of thunderstorms, drifting northward, will become a tropical depression or Tropical Storm Debby within the next 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center said. Computer forecast models disagree on the systems track.
The center of circulation of the broad area of low pressure over the Gulf of Mexico appears to be becoming better defined, the center said in an advisory before 8 a.m. New York time. A tropical depression, or more likely a tropical storm, could form later today or tonight if the development trend continues.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to 6.5 percent of U.S. natural gas production, 29 percent of oil output and 40 percent of refining capacity. Offshore oil and natural gas platforms need to carry out evacuations well in advance of a storms arrival, so any system in the Gulf can cause production disruptions.