As a precautionary measure offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico speeded up their evacuation of platforms and rigs in the path of Hurricane Katia, which according to forecasters, may turn into a category 3 hurricane.

Workers active at 169 production platforms and 16 drilling rigs have been evacuated till now and the shutting-in procedures have been activated at all the production platforms.

Shutting-in oil and gas production is a standard procedure conducted by industry for safety and environmental reasons.

A release from The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) said that approximately 47.6 percent of the current oil production and 33 percent of the natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut-in.

There are 617 manned production platforms and 62 drilling rigs functioning in the Gulf of Mexico contributing 31 percent in U.S. oil production and 7 percent in natural gas production.

The Gulf is bordered by the United States to the north (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas), five Mexican states to the west (Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan), and the island of Cuba to the southeast.

Forecasters said Katia could eventually strengthen into a major Category 3 hurricane with winds over 110 miles per hour. However, the storm is still too far out to predict whether it will hit land at all, much less whether it will affect the United States or how bad it might be if it does.

However, it is still uncertain whether Katia could endanger the land. Katia is heading towards East Coast.

Katia formed off the Cape Verde Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, and it immediately got East Coast residents' attention as they coped with the severe flooding that Hurricane Irene brought to some areas over the weekend. Vermont and New Jersey were particularly hard-hit, and President Obama planned to visit New Jersey to assess the damage.