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NOAA Predicts Relatively Easy Hurricane Season

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a relatively inactive Atlantic hurricane season this year, which goes from June 1 to November 30, according to information released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The NOAA projects a 70 percent probability of eight to 13 named storms this season, of which three to six will strengthen to hurricanes and one to two will become major hurricanes, which are characterized as being in wind categories 3, 4 and 5. From 2004-2013, the Atlantic hurricane season has averaged 16.3 named storms, 7.7 hurricanes, and 3.2 major hurricanes.

The effects that named storms will have on Gulf Coast crude oil and natural gas production this year will depend on their trajectory and strength.

Last year, which was the quietest hurricane season in the past two decades, only one named storm made landfall in the U.S. and didn't cause any disruptions to crude oil or natural gas production. 2008 was the least year that the United States experienced significant shut-ins, when two significant hurricanes -- Gustava and Ike -- made landfall in Louisiana and Texas, respectively, that September.

Regional shifts in where oil and natural gas production take place from the Gulf Coast to inland basins have helped decline the number of storm disruptions to the industry. In 1997, for example, 26 percent of the nation's natural gas was produced in the federal Gulf of Mexico, whereas in 2012, that number was reduced to 6 percent.