NEW YORK - The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Monday a broad area of low pressure about 500 miles east of the Lesser Antilles in the Atlantic Ocean had a high chance of becoming the season's next tropical depression during the next 48 hours.

Showers and thunderstorms continued to show signs of organization. However, there was no well-defined surface circulation center as of 2 p.m. EDT, the NHC said.

The system had a greater than 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression during the next day or so as it moves west-northwest at around 15 miles per hour.

The NHC said interests in the Lesser Antilles should monitor the progress of the system.

Forecast tracks show it crossing to the north of some of the islands, with one track showing it close to Anguilla, the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico.

Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist with forecaster Planalytics, said any threat to the Gulf of Mexico energy infrastructure was seen as remote at this point in time.

Energy traders keep a close eye on storms that could enter the Gulf and disrupt offshore U.S. oil and natural gas production or refinery operations along the coast.

Commodities traders likewise watch storms that could damage agriculture crops such as citrus and cotton in Florida and other states along the coast to Texas.

Pricing of insurance-linked securities, which transfer insurance risks associated with natural disasters to capital markets investors and can be used to hedge other weather risk exposures, can also be affected by the path of a storm.

Elsewhere, tropical cyclone formation was not expected during the next 48 hours.

(Reporting by Rene Pastor; Editing by John Picinich)