Ike damaged about 10 oil platforms: US officials

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2008 (AFP) – Hurricane Ike appears to have damaged about 10 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, US officials said Sunday, raising concerns that the storm could hurt oil production and lead to a spike in prices at US gas stations.

Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman with the US Mineral Management Service (MMS), told AFP that officials were only able to make a rough estimate of the number of damaged platforms based on “flyovers” of the area, which has some 3,800 oil platforms.

“We expect (the number of) damaged platforms to be around 10,” she said, adding that the reports of damage at this point are “preliminary.”

“We don’t know yet the extent of this damage,” she said.

The MMS said that Hurricane Katrina in 2005 ravaged 44 platforms, while Hurricane Rita which struck the Gulf Coast oil installations later that same year damaged 64 platforms. Ike hammered the oil hub early Saturday, apparently impairing US oil production as it stranded thousands of people and caused billions of dollars in damage.