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U.S. energy sector weighs hurricane threat

June 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM

MIAMI, June 3 (UPI) -- U.S. oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico could face disruptions from at least seven hurricanes this season, the U.S. Energy Department said.

The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said offshore production might be affected by more than seven named storms in the Atlantic Basin that could strengthen into a hurricane. At least three of the storms could be characterized as a level 3 or greater.

Hurricane Barbara made landfall Wednesday in the Mexican state of Chiapas as a Category 1 storm, with top winds of 75 mph. It weakened to a tropical depression after it made landfall.

The EIA said U.S. disruptions from hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico have declined because oil and natural gas production was taking place in inland basins, which are less vulnerable to storms.

Onshore production in states like Texas and North Dakota have helped spur a major increase in U.S. oil production capacity.

The agency said crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico declined from 26 percent of the national total 2007-11 to 19 percent last year.

Hurricane season lasts through Nov. 30.

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