Monday, May 3, 2010

Cyclone Builds off Andhra Pradesh, Oilfield Closes

A cyclone intensified over the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, forcing a oilfield to shut and cut its gas output, and the evacuation of some 50,000 people in the region, officials said. Officials also voiced concerns the cyclone, with wind gusts of up to 155 kph (100 mph), could slow the progress of the monsoon rains, vital for India's trillion-dollar economy. Tropical Cyclone Laila was set to hammer the coast of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, prompting Reliance Industries to stop oil production and reduce gas output from the region by 10 percent, company sources said.

"We are monitoring the situation and if we find that the cyclone will directly hit our facilities, then our FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading facility) may have to be taken to a safer location," said a company source, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The cyclone is forecast to move towards Orissa after striking Andhra Pradesh, but it is likely to weaken by the time it reaches the Paradip port, a hub for iron ore exports. G.K. Biswal, deputy conservator of Paradip port, said port authorities were on alert although they did not expect any disruption.

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