Offshore energy production in the Gulf of Mexico has experienced relatively minor disruptions because of tropical storms and hurricanes in recent years, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a below-normal 2015 hurricane season in its updated Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook, released on August 6.
Hurricane-related risk to total U.S. crude oil and natural gas production has decreased over recent years as the share of total U.S. production originating in the Gulf of Mexico has declined sharply. In 2003, 27% of the nation's crude oil was produced in the Gulf of Mexico; by 2014, that share had declined to 16%. The Gulf of Mexico's share of natural gas production has also declined from a high of 26% in 1997 to 5% in 2014.
This decline in the Gulf of Mexico's share of production has reduced the vulnerability of U.S. crude oil and natural gas supply to hurricanes. Based on NOAA's outlook, EIA estimated in its June Short-Term Energy Outlook that storm-related disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico during the 2015 hurricane season would total 9.7 million barrels of crude oil and 15.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas, or 3.5% and 2.8% of total Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas production, respectively, and even smaller percentages of total U.S. production. No crude oil or natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico was shut in during the 2014 hurricane season, and EIA estimated a 14% probability that production during the current hurricane season will also be unaffected.