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U.S. oil firms restore operations in Gulf of Mexico

Staff Writer |
Major oil producers and drillers, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and BP, on Thursday began returning workers and restoring output at U.S. Gulf of Mexico facilities shut as Hurricane Michael blew through.

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The storm brought heavy seas with up to 20 foot (6 meter) waves and winds of 155 miles per hour (250 kph) in the Gulf on Wednesday as it moved toward the Florida Panhandle. Drenching rains were falling over Georgia and the Carolinas on Thursday.

Oil output was off by 680,000 barrels a day and natural gas production down by 744 million cubic feet a day, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Its Thursday survey found workers had returned to 30 of the 89 production platforms unmanned on Wednesday.

Chevron and Exxon each were in the process of returning to normal operations at two production platforms that had evacuated some staff, the companies said. BP also was redeploying crews to four platforms after completing safety checks.

Restarting production can take several days. Producers lost about 2.39 million barrels of oil this week through Thursday as a result of shut-ins and the figure is expected to rise. However, Gulf production cuts have been less of an impact on supplies with the rise of U.S. shale oil.

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