Since Americans are not reeling enough from paying around $4 for a gallon of gas, our friends at CNN throw a little extra gas on the fire by declaring that an active hurricane season could mean $6 gas at the pumps.
The official Atlantic hurricane season starts today, and we already have the first tropical storm of the year, Arthur, which is rolling across the Yucatan peninsula as I write this. Arthur may emerge into the Bay of Campeche, where it wouldn’t be very strong, but it would roll over or near the Cantarell oil field, which may mean shutdowns for a few days if they decide to evacuate crews from the oil platforms there.
If hurricane watching interests you, the best place I’ve found to track things is Storm2K. They have active forums that have professional meteorologists from the NHC and elsewhere participating on a regular basis. I got interested in hurricanes at my last job… we had a major office in Miami that was almost totally destroyed by hurricane Andrew in 1992. Every time a storm starts spinning up that could effect South Florida, it got my attention.
For those of you interested in watching the hurricanes based on their ability to do serious damage to oil prices, the main areas to watch are the Western Gulf of Mexico (from New Orleans westward) and the bay of Campeche.
The Western Gulf is the big one to watch, since that’s where much of the offshore oil & gas are being produced in the US. A large number of big refineries are also located in an arc from around Galveston, TX into Louisiana, and then there’s the LOOP.
The Bay of Campeche is where the bulk of Mexico’s oil production is. The Yucatan peninsula will slow down most major hurricanes that would hit that area (see Hurricane Dean from 2007), but a direct hit from a weak hurricane would still cause enough damage & production slowdowns to send oil prices higher.
While there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ hurricane, the ones that have the most potential to cause economic havoc are the ones that will make it into the Western Gulf of Mexico. If wind patterns are such that the storms either head into the Southern Carribean or heading up the East Coast of the USA, an active storm season will not be an economically devastating one.