AIR Worldwide: Category 3 hurricane threatens oil fields west of New Orleans

Hurricane Gustav has made landfall in a lightly populated area of Louisiana, 100 miles west of New Orleans.

However, the hurricane poses a threat to six major energy production facilities and still threatens surrounding coastal cities due to storm surge which could continue for hours after the hurricane has hit land.

Dr Milan Simic, managing director of AIR Worldwide, said: “In comparison with Katrina it has come in at a relatively skewed angle, winds are going to be less, but surge is likely to be greater because of the position of the hurricane.”

He added that the number of major at-risk energy installations in the Gulf of Mexico is higher than three years ago: “Six platforms producing more than 200,000 barrels per day are in the path of Gustav compared to two platforms of a comparable output when Hurricane Katrina struck. Wind speeds are less than those seen in Hurricane Katrina, but offshore losses are often cause by the wave height. Waves can cause catastrophic failure of a platform, which was seen in Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan.”