Shell halts offshore drilling as U.S. Gulf Coast braces for hurricane, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

HOUSTON: Royal Dutch Shell Plc began shutting some of its offshore drilling operations on Sunday in preparation for

Tropical Storm Sally

, forecast to become a hurricane before making landfall on Tuesday, the company said.

Shell's offshore production was unchanged and all personnel remained on production platforms, company spokeswoman Cynthia Babski said.

Energy producers and communities along the U.S. Gulf Coast organized evacuations of residents and offshore workers on Sunday as they prepared for the second hurricane strike in less than a month.

However, one firm, BHP does not plan to take workers from offshore facilities, a company spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Tropical Storm Sally strengthened as it crept up the warm waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, carrying winds that could reach 90 miles per hour (145 kph) ahead of landfall on Tuesday, forecasters said.

It was about 280 miles (450 km) east-southeast from the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving at 13 mph, according to

the U.S. National Hurricane Center

. At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), its sustained winds had increased to 60 mph (95 kph), the NHC said.

Chevron Corp.

and Murphy Oil Corp on Saturday began evacuations from offshore production platforms, spokespeople said. Chevron's Pascagoula, Mississippi, refinery was implementing storm preparedness procedures, the company said.

Other oil producers with drilling ....

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