U.S. offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are beginning to ramp up production as crews are returning in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. However about 12 percent of the region’s platforms were still without staff on Sept. 4.
Nearly all of the Gulf’s offshore platforms and rigs were evacuated last week.
Nine refineries in the path of Isaac are restarting or operating at reduced rates, according to the Energy Department.
The national average price of gasoline rose 11 cents last week as Isaac threatened the Gulf Coast and then swept ashore with high winds and flooding rains. But by Aug. 31, the price had leveled off to just under $3.83 per gallon.
Uncertainty in the oil futures market has prompted some to call for the federal government to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to stabilize prices.
That, in turn, prompted U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) to insist recently that the White House “protect American jobs” if it decides to tap into the SPR.
The leaders of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee asked the administration in a letter to abide by Jones Act requirements, which ensure shipments between American ports travel on U.S-flag vessels. The administration granted waivers during the last release in 2011, allowing foreign-flag vessels to carry the oil between U.S. ports and angering some Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
“Should the administration decide to release SPR reserves, we look forward to working with you to uphold the longstanding tenets of the Jones Act to ensure that the transport of this oil results in jobs for U.S. mariners and business for U.S. carriers, just as the law requires,” they wrote in the letter, which can be read here.