WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Oil and natural gas disruptions from hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico may be much higher than last year, the U.S. Energy Department said Thursday.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said its mean estimate is that 12 million barrels of crude oil and 30 billion cubic feet of natural gas could be forced offline during the current hurricane season. That would be three and four times higher than 2013, respectively, if forecasts are accurate.
EIA said its estimates are "highly uncertain" given the difficulty in predicting the intensity of storms in the Atlantic.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center shows no tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it expects this year to be mild for named storms.
Tropical Storm Karen was the only 2013 storm to effect production in U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It shut down 3.1 million barrels of oil and 6.7 billion cubic feet of gas in October.
"EIA's analysis expects that even with a mild hurricane season, there is a 69 percent probability of production outages exceeding those of last year," it said.
Nonetheless, EIA estimates that inland shale production could offset offshore shortfalls.