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BP evacuating staff from offshore Gulf of Mexico oil platforms as Tropical Storm brews

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: A massive drilling derrick is pictured on BP's Thunder Horse Oil Platform in the Gulf of Mexico
FILE PHOTO: A massive drilling derrick is pictured on BP's Thunder Horse Oil Platform in the Gulf of Mexico

HOUSTON (Reuters) - BP <BP.L> on Sunday said it has begun to evacuate four offshore U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil platforms and secure facilities as Tropical Storm Zeta sprang up in the Caribbean Sea.

The 27th named storm of this year's Atlantic Hurricane season, Zeta strengthened on Sunday and is forecast to become a hurricane before it nears Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late Monday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

"With forecasts indicating the storm will move across the Central and/or Northeastern Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, we are taking steps to respond," BP said in a statement.

In addition to securing its offshore facilities, the company is pulling workers from its Atlantis, Mad Dog, Na Kika and Thunder Horse platforms.

Some Gulf of Mexico oil producers have had to remove offshore workers and halt oil and gas production six times or more in this year's extremely active storm season.

Zeta's winds could hit 75 miles per hour (120 kmh), a category one hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, by late Monday, the NHC said. The storm is heading for a U.S. landfall between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle.

If Zeta became a hurricane and struck the U.S. mainland, it would top the record of 10 named storms to make U.S. landfall that was set by Hurricane Delta only weeks earlier.

U.S. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production accounts for 17% of total U.S. crude oil production and 5% of total U.S. dry natural gas production.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Kim Coghill)