Actually, it’s called a cyclone in that part of the world. Now a small but surprisingly powerful Category 5 storm, Cyclone Laurence is moving through the Timor Sea parallel to the northwest coast of Australia, and is expected to make landfall near the town of Derby today.
The oil fields in the Timor Sea have been evacuated, including the crew on the Montara platform where they’re still working to install a permanent cement plug in the well that blew out on August 21 and spilled oil and gas for ten weeks. The well-defined eye of this storm, 19 miles in diameter, passed about 130 miles southeast of the platform on December 15. The storm was moving then at about 15 miles per hour toward the southwest.
Nasty weather really complicates operations at sea. Hopefully the temporary mud plug will hold until they can get back and finish this well-control job.