Handout satellite image of the low pressure area System 96L in the Gulf of Mexico
Satellite image shows the low-pressure area System 96L -- aka Tropical Storm Debby -- in the Gulf of Mexico. REUTERS

With Tropical Storm Debby more or less dead in the water of the central Gulf of Mexico, oil-and-gas operators have evacuated at least nine production platforms -- equivalent to 1.5 percent of the 596 manned platforms there -- according to the U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, or BSEE.

The O&G operators also have evacuated at least one drilling rig -- equivalent to 1.4 percent of the 70 rigs operating at present in the Gulf of Mexico -- the BSEE reported, citing data submitted to it by the operators as of Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CDT (12:30 p.m. EDT).

Based on the O&G operators' reports, the BSEE estimates about 7.8 percent of the current daily oil production and about 8.16 percent of the current daily natural-gas production are now shut-in. This equals about 107,602 barrels of oil per day and about 367 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

In conjunction with the evacuation process, O&G operators activate the applicable shut-in procedures, which can frequently be done at a remote location. This involves closing subsurface safety valves located below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico's floor to prevent the release of oil or gas.

Shutting-in O&G production during significant storms is a standard procedure conducted by the industry for both environmental and safety reasons.

The BSEE will bring its evacuation and shut-in statistics up-to-date daily for the duration of the storm.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Debby's heavy squalls are lashing southwestern Florida, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. The NHC described the slow-moving storm's maximum sustained winds as 50 mph.

A tropical-storm warning is in effect for the coast of Louisiana from the mouth of the Pearl River westward to Morgan City -- excluding New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain -- the NHC reported. A tropical-storm warning means that tropical-storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area within 36 hours, the NHC said.

In this case, the NHC anticipates tropical-storm wind conditions may first reach the coast within the warning area by Sunday night. It expects a storm surge of between one and three feet in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.

Along portions of the Gulf Coast, rain accumulations ranging from 3 to 6 inches are probable, and isolated maximum amounts of 10 inches are possible, the NHC reported. It mentioned isolated tornadoes are also a threat.