US Gulf of Mexico oil, gas producers begin restarting after Barry

HOUSTON, July 15 (Reuters) - U.S. oil companies on Monday began restoring some of the more than nearly 74% production shut at U.S. Gulf of Mexico platforms ahead of Hurricane Barry, the U.S. offshore drilling regulator said.

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There was 1.3 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil production off line in the U.S.-regulated areas of the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, about 80,000 barrels less than on Sunday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Workers also were returning to the more than 280 production platforms evacuated. It can take several days for full production to be resumed after a storm leaves the Gulf of Mexico.

Anadarko Petroleum, BHP Group and Chevron on Monday said they had begun returning staff to evacuated platforms and were in the process of restoring operations.

Barry went ashore in central Louisiana as a category one hurricane with at least 74 miles per hour (119 km per hour) on Saturday after emerging into the Gulf from Florida earlier in the week. On Monday, it was a tropical depression and dropping up to four inches (10 cm) of rain on Arkansas on Monday.

In its wake, offshore natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico was down 61%, or 1.7 billion cubic feet per day (cfd), on Monday, BSEE said.

The amount of gas flowing to Cheniere Energy Inc's Sabine Pass liquified natural gas (LNG) export facility in Louisiana, rose to a one-week high of 3.7 billion cfd.

Last week, the amount of gas flowing to Sabine fell to a 13-week low of 2.9 billion cfd on Thursday, according to Refinitiv.

Most refineries in southeast Louisiana kept running through the storm except for Phillips 66's 253,600 bpd Alliance, Louisiana, refinery, which the company began restarting on Monday.

The Alliance refinery was shut on Friday due to the threat of flooding and a mandatory evacuation order in Plaquemines Parish, where the refinery is located along the Mississippi River.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston Editing by Matthew Lewis and Alistair Bell)