This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 24, 2008

Gulf Coast Still Recovering from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike

Federal agencies have increased their estimates of the damage caused by Hurricane Ike, while oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico are slowly recovering from the impacts of both Ike and Hurricane Gustav. On September 18, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) increased its estimate of destroyed offshore oil and gas production platforms to 49, up from 28 earlier that week, but that still represents only about 1% of Gulf oil and natural gas production. As of September 23, 66.8% of oil production in the Gulf was shut-in, along with 61.6% of the natural gas production, representing increases of roughly 30% for oil production and 20% for gas production relative to September 16. Personnel were still evacuated from 29.3% of the remaining manned oil and gas production platforms in the Gulf, less than half the percentage reported on September 16. See the latest MMS press releases.

DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability is issuing status reports on the energy impact of Hurricane Ike, and as of September 23, slightly more than 745,000 customers in Texas lacked power, as well as another 30,000 customers in Ohio and Kentucky. Only six refineries in Texas are still shut down, with a total capacity of 1.7 million barrels per day of petroleum products, which is less than 10% of U.S. capacity. Most oil and natural gas pipelines are now recovering from the hurricanes. To help ease the impact of the supply disruptions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued emergency waivers of certain fuel standards for 13 states, plus the District of Columbia. And since September 24, DOE has released another 1.6 million barrels of petroleum from the strategic petroleum reserve to keep refineries operating. See the DOE status reports, the EPA fuel waivers, and the latest DOE press releases.

Oil prices have gone back up to more than $100 per barrel, but energy experts assign the rise in prices to commodities speculation due to the stock market difficulties, rather than to any disruption due to the hurricanes. While oil prices have increased, fuel prices have dropped, with the average price for regular unleaded gasoline falling 11.7 cents from Monday, September 15, to Monday, September 22, according to DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The American Automobile Association's Fuel Gauge Report shows another 13-cent drop on September 23. The EIA estimated on September 23 that at least 20 million barrels of gasoline and 13 million barrels of diesel fuel have not been produced because of the storm impacts. See the latest EIA reports on the energy market impacts of the hurricanes and on gasoline and diesel fuel prices, as well as the latest oil and fuel prices from the New York Mercantile Exchange and the American Automobile Association's Fuel Gauge Report.