October 25, 2010 / 10:02 AM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 5-Richard nears Gulf of Mexico, no threat to US oil

 * Storm losing power as it nears Gulf of Mexico
 * No deaths, injuries or major damage reported
 * Coffee crops in Honduras, Guatemala likely spared
 (Recasts, updates with latest position, quote)
 By Isela Serrano
 CANCUN, Mexico, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Richard
weakened to a tropical depression on Monday as it moved across
southern Mexico and headed for the Bay of Campeche, but did not
look to pose a major threat to Mexican or U.S. oil operations.
 The storm is expected on Tuesday to pass near the platforms
that produce the bulk of Mexico's 2.6 million barrels per day
of crude oil, but state oil monopoly Pemex said it was only
taking the usual precautions and all operations were normal.
 Most forecasting models suggest Richard will dissipate
before nearing major oil and gas installations in the U.S.
Gulf, and even if the storm did not fizzle out it would likely
be too weak to disrupt any output.
 "When Richard emerges into the Gulf, it should be a very
weak cyclone," the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
 "The official forecast shows Richard becoming a remnant low
in a day or so, but this event could very well occur sooner,"
the center said in a statement.
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 Richard dumped moderate rains in the Caribbean resort city
of Cancun, and Mexican authorities reported no injuries or
major damage.
 About 200 villagers returned home after relocating to
shelters over the weekend, local authorities said.
 The storm made landfall on Sunday just south of Belize
City, blowing roofs off houses and knocking out electricity as
tourists and residents huddled in emergency shelters.
 The government of Belize reported no injuries or deaths
from Richard, which came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, the
lowest on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.
 The weakening storm had maximum sustained winds of 35 miles
per hour (56 kph), was located 55 miles (88 km) southeast of
the Mexican port of Ciudad del Carmen, and was moving
west-northwest at 9 mph (14 kph), the Miami-based center said.
 Richard is expected to produce 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of
rain across northern Guatemala and the Mexican states of
Quintana Roo and Campeche, the hurricane center said.
 Hurricanes occasionally pass over the Yucatan Peninsula and
can disrupt Mexican oil operations.
 In September, Hurricane Karl forced a brief shutdown of 14
minor Mexican wells in the Gulf, with no significant impact on
 Guatemalan authorities reported no significant damage or
casualties due to the storm, and the head of the country's
coffee growers' association said the crop would probably not be
 Richard was the 10th hurricane of the busy 2010 Atlantic
storm season, which has experienced five major storms. The
United States has so far been spared landfall by any
significant storm.
 (Additional reporting by Robert Campbell, Jason Lange and
Miguel Angel Gutierrez in Mexico City, Gustavo Palencia in
Tegucigalpa and Sarah Grainger in Guatemala City; editing by
Jim Marshall)

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