Hurricane Barry Caused Biggest Gulf Oil Drop In More Than A Decade

Oct 9, 2019

Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico saw its biggest drop in more than a decade due to the production shutdown ahead of Hurricane Barry earlier this summer, but most consumers likely didn't notice a difference at the gas pump.

As Hurricane Barry approached the Louisiana coast in July, companies evacuated workers and temporarily shut down many of their oil and gas platforms in the Gulf.

According to The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), 283 offshore oil and gas platforms were evacuated. The Bureau estimates 70 percent of Gulf oil production was temporarily shut down.

That translates to a drop of 330,000 barrels per day during the month of July, according to data released from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) -- the biggest one-month decline in more than a decade.

The temporary closure of 283 oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of Hurricane Barry, in July, caused offshore oil production to drop by 330,000 barrels per day.
Credit U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Despite the drop, average gas prices stayed about the same across the country. Why?

For one, Patrick DeHaan, Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy.com, says 330,000 barrels is only a fraction of daily oil consumption in the U.S.

“It is relatively small. And that’s probably why we didn’t see much of an impact,” he said.

Plus, DeHaan said, gas prices generally have more to do with coastal refineries than the amount of oil production coming from the Gulf of Mexico.

“The U.S. has very ample oil inventories,” says DeHaan. “It also has a strategic petroleum reserve. What can make more of an impact [is] if the storm shuts down refining capacity.”

The EIA expects overall oil production to increase through 2020 in the U.S.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.