By Ben Geman - 08/28/12 08:03 PM EDT
The storm, which reached hurricane strength Tuesday, has prompted oil-and-gas companies to suspend output and clear workers off Gulf of Mexico platforms, and it’s forcing some Gulf Coast refineries to go offline as well.
The Interior Department said Tuesday afternoon that 93 percent of Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production has been shut in, totaling nearly 1.3 million barrels per day of output. The Gulf accounts for almost a fourth of U.S. crude oil production.
“Based on data from offshore operator reports ... personnel have been evacuated from a total of 503 production platforms, equivalent to 84.4 percent of the 596 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico,” Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said in its daily update.
The White House, even before the storm, has said use of the reserve is on the table in recent weeks.
The consideration occurs amid elevated prices and concerns about global supplies affected by sanctions against Iran and other factors.
The administration announced release of 30 million barrels from the reserve in June of 2011 at a time when the conflict in Libya had removed supplies from the market, part of a larger coordinated release with other International Energy Agency member nations.