MEXICO CITY (AP) – Oil workers began returning to rigs in the southern Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican state oil monopoly opened its three main loading ports Wednesday, as Hurricane Emily chugged slowly inland and weakened. Tankers carrying about 2 million barrels of oil left ports belonging to Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, on Wednesday in the southern Gulf, though Mexican production remained at a standstill in the northern Gulf as the hurricane came ashore before dawn about 75 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pemex sends at least 80 percent of its 1.8 million barrels per day in crude exports to the United States. About 16,000 oil workers had abandoned Mexican offshore installations in the hurricane’s path, including all workers from offshore installations in the Poza Rica-Altamira area, near Emily’s second landfall in Mexico.

Although the storm missed the United States, there were precautionary rig evacuations on the U.S. side of the Gulf. Nearly 6 percent of daily U.S. oil production on the Gulf remained suspended because of Emily on Wednesday.

The cumulative lost oil production from U.S waters on the Gulf reached 215,478 barrels. Cumulative natural gas production losses were 1.4 billion cubic feet.

The storm passed more than 100 miles north of Pemex’s main production areas on the Bay of Campeche, where all personnel were expected back on Friday.

Pemex was surveying its facilities in the Gulf for damages on Wednesday and had not reported any losses.

Mexico’s three main oil loading ports in the Gulf – Dos Bocas, Pajaritos and the offshore terminal at Cayo Arcas – all were open Wednesday.

The hurricane had forced Pemex to suspend daily production of 2.95 million barrels of oil. The company did not report how much production had been restored on Wednesday.

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AP-ES-07-20-05 1827EDT

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