August 27, 2012 North Myrtle Beach, SC – Just a few days before the Labor Day weekend, the wholesale price of gasoline jumped 10 cents a gallon and U.S. crude oil prices rose 75 cents a barrel today as Isaac drives towards the Gulf of Mexico. The threat of Isaac is shutting down offshore oil and gas production platforms and threatening the refineries along the Gulf Coast.
As of Monday, 39 production platforms and eight rigs have been evacuated and the Governor of Louisiana had declared a state of emergency in a state that accounts for 40% of U.S. refinery production. Approximately 24 % of the current daily oil and 8% of the current daily natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.
A huge amount of U.S. refining capacity lies in the projected path of Isaac. Some of these are huge complexes requiring over 6,000 employees to keep them running. Not only are the refinery operations at risk from hurricane damage but also from the evacuation of essential operational personnel.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) calls Isaac better organized as it moves over the warm Gulf Coast waters. The 65 mph tropical storm is expected to reach hurricane strength within the next few days. Landfall is expected early Tuesday.
Hurricane warnings are in effect from east of Morgan City, Louisiana to Destin, Florida including New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. The NHC warns of the possibility of a storm surge if the tide and arrival of Isaac coincide. In Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama they warn of 6 to 12 foot surges.
Also threatening is the risk of flooding. The NHC says there is the possibility of total rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches with maximum amounts of 18 inches in southeastern Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle.