Mexico has started to evacuate 13,360 workers from its Gulf of Mexico oil rigs as powerful hurricane Dean neared.

According to state oil company Pemex, which produces some 70 per cent of its crude oil from offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and is a major supplier to the United States, the move will affect production.

Mexico, which is the world’s No. 5 oil producer by volume, operates hundreds of rigs in the Gulf of Mexico at oil fields like Cantarell and Ku Maloob Zaap. It also produces a third of its natural gas offshore.

In contrast U.S. Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas producers were sighing in relief as hurricane Dean appeared unlikely to plow through their production areas and refining centers.

“The weather forecasts are getting better for us,” said BP spokeswoman Nicola Montorsi, echoing statements from several oil and gas companies. “Of course, they’re not good for Mexico.”