Tropical Storm Debby, the fourth storm of the 2012 hurricane season, has formed in the Gulf of Mexico about 355 kilometers southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday the storm has maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour and is expected to move over the northern Gulf of Mexico during the next few days and some strengthening is forecast.
Debby forced the suspension of 8 percent of the region's oil and gas production.
Officials said nine production platforms and one drilling rig were evacuated. The reduced production is not expected to impact oil prices unless the storm strengthens and forces more production platforms to close.
It is the first time four tropical storms have formed before July 1 during the Atlantic hurricane season since record keeping began in 1851.