Oilfields and refineries in the U.S.' Gulf of Mexico have braced for the potential devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian, which could seriously hurt a large percentage of production and refining in the country.
"Dorian has strengthened to an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane," the U.S.' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said late Friday on its website.
With maximum wind speeds reaching 140 miles per hour (255 kilometers per hour), NOAA said "life-threatening storm surge" and "devastating hurricane-force winds" are possible.
Dorian is expected to make landfall in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida early Monday, and could move to west towards the Gulf of Mexico next week, or change direction towards the Atlantic to the north.
"Over 45% of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity is located along the Gulf coast, as well as 51% of total U.S. natural gas processing plant capacity," according to the U.S.' Energy Information Administration (EIA).
As for production, Gulf of Mexico offshore accounts for 17% of total U.S. crude oil output, while offshore natural gas production in the region accounts for 5% of total dry gas output in the U.S., the EIA data shows.
"This is an extremely dangerous storm, please prepare and be safe!" U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter early Saturday, while he cancelled his trip to Poland.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said "It is imperative that all Floridians and their families take this threat seriously and have a plan in place," urging resident to have seven days of food, water and medicine ready.
- Hurricanes in past
In July, when Tropical Storm Barry hit the U.S.' Gulf of Mexico, it hindered 1 million barrels per day of oil production, which was around half of the Gulf’s production capacity. In October 2018, Hurricane Michael halted more than 700,000 barres per day of oil output.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which were among the most costly hurricanes in U.S. history, hit the region with a series of storms during the months of August and September in 2017.
While Hurricane Harvey ranks second with estimated damage costs of $125 billion, Hurricane Irma comes in fifth place with $50 billion, according to NOAA.
By Ovunc Kutlu