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Oil and gas companies evacuate employees, slash production ahead of Hurricane Ida

Oil companies in the region cut output even more than they did ahead of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
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Ports from southern Louisiana to Mississippi were closed Sunday morning as Hurricane Ida raced toward the Gulf Coast as an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm.

Energy companies slashed U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude oil production by 91 percent, or 1.65 million barrels, according to the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. By Saturday, oil and gas companies had evacuated 290 offshore facilities and moved 11 drill vessels out of harm's way.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the largest privately owned crude terminal in the U.S., also halted deliveries ahead of the storm, according to a notice on its website. The port's terminal is in the open waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, about 18 miles off Louisiana.

Ports in southern Louisiana, including Houma and the Port of New Orleans, were closed Sunday, while Biloxi, Gulfport, Pascagoula and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Mississippi were shut.

Ida has intensified faster than officials predicted, prompting evacuations and closing businesses along the Gulf Coast.

The 1.65 million barrel-a-day production cuts are deeper than those made ahead of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when 1.53 million barrels a day were taken offline.

ExxonMobil cut production at its Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery to 50 percent of its 520,000 barrel-per-day capacity. It also shut some units in the adjoining chemical plant because trucks won't be able to reach the Baton Rouge complex to take away products as the storm passes through.

Rubber and lube oil production are also likely to be shut down temporarily at the chemical plant.

"ExxonMobil Baton Rouge facilities are adjusting operations and shutting down some units and equipment to ensure safe and stable operations during the hurricane," Exxon spokeswoman Julie King told Reuters.

CORRECTION (Aug. 29, 2021, 6:45 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of a waterway that was closed ahead of Hurricane Ida. It is the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, not the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway.