(AP) — A strengthening Hurricane Ida, bearing high winds and the likelihood of flooding rain as it heads for the Louisiana coast, could damage the energy-heavy Gulf Coast economy and potentially have economic consequences well beyond the region.
The Gulf is not only a major base for oil and natural gas companies but also a vital hub for the nation’s chemical and shipping industries.
Companies evacuated oil and gas platforms south of Louisiana ahead of the hurricane. But a far greater worry was potential damage to refineries and petrochemical plants in its projected path from flooding and storm surge.
Nearly 300 offshore platforms — or half the manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico — were evacuated ahead of the storm, their production temporarily halted, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said on its website Saturday. Floating rigs also cleared out. In all, more than 80% of gulf oil…