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Oil and Gas Platform Ocean Current Profile Data from the Northern Gulf of Mexico

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Approximately 40 deep water oil production platforms and drilling rigs continue to provide real-time current profile data to NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). The NDBC receives and quality controls the data and transmits it over the Global Telecommunications System. The NDBC stores the raw binary current profile data where it can be extracted in order to forecast the Loop Current and Loop Eddies for oil and transportation concerns in the Gulf of Mexico and to investigate the oceanography of the northern Gulf of Mexico. After quality control, the NDBC also stores the processed data.

In addition to aiding the oil and gas industry to understand and design for the forces in the water column generated by strong currents in the Gulf of Mexico, the three years of ocean profile data show a number of oceanographic phenomena. This paper presents an examination of the Loop Current and associated eddies based on the oil and gas industry data. The high currents of the Loop Current that extend to several hundred meters depth are present and generally impact oil platforms as it moves into the northern Gulf of Mexico. Loop Eddies exhibit many of the same characteristics as the Loop Current, then move into the western Gulf of Mexico to impact oil platforms there before currents diminish. Cyclonic eddies formed from interactions between the Loop Current and topographic or land features are also present. Five-day plots of the current profiles show the passage of eddies. Wind-driven inertial currents propagate throughout the water column in all regions of the Gulf. The current profiles from delayed-mode, bottom-mounted profilers show that hurricane-generated near-inertial currents reach great depths.

Keywords: Loop Current; Loop Eddies; National Data Buoy Center; Northern Gulf of Mexico; Oil and Gas Platforms

Document Type: Technical Note


Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.
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