* Regulators say 44.1 pct oil, 1.5 bcf natgas output shut

* Producers start production restart, restaffing efforts

* NYMEX crude prices ease after Debby's move to Florida

By Kristen Hays

HOUSTON, June 25 (Reuters) - Some of the Gulf of Mexico's biggest oil and gas producers began to restart production and restaff evacuated platforms on Mo nday as Tropical Storm Debby slowly headed for the Florida panhandle, away from energy infrastructure in the basin.

Debby, the first named storm of 2012 to disrupt energy operations in the Gulf, temporarily idled nearly half of its oil output -- nearly double the amount shut on Sunday -- and more than a third of natural gas output as producers shut down operations and evacuated staff at installations in the storm's projected path.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said on Monday that companies had shut in 44.1 percent, or 608,025 barrels per day of oil and 34.8 percent, or 1.5 billion cubic feet per day of gas was shut in. As restarts progress, those figures are expected to decline.

The Gulf accounts for about 20 percent of U.S. oil output and 6 percent of natural gas production.

BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell, respectively the largest and third-largest oil producers in the Gulf, each said they were restarting output and restaffing platforms.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp, the largest gas producer in the Gulf, the company aimed to do the same for its four shut and evacuated platforms as weather conditions allowed. Anadarko's affected platforms include the natural gas-only Independence Hub, which can produce up to 1 billion cubic feet per day.

On Saturday, forecasters had expected Debby to turn west and cross the areas in the Gulf most populated with energy infrastructure, including most of BP and Shell's operations.

By Sunday, the storm's path turned northeast toward the Florida panhandle, away from oil and gas platforms. By Monday, Debby pounded Florida with heavy rain and was headed straight east toward the state's western coast.

Early gains in crude futures evaporated after Debby shifted course away from the Gulf production-rich areas.

BP said it would start with its westernmost operations and when restaffed, crews will restart production and drilling.

BP operates seven oil and gas platforms in the Gulf, including the world's largest, Thunder Horse, which is designed to produce up to 250,000 barrels per day of oil and 200 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Shell shut output at two of its seven operated platforms, Auger and Enchilada. The company also evacuated about 360 workers not directly involved in production.

"Re-start and ramp-up of the minimal subsea production shut-in has also begun today. By end of day Tuesday, we will be back to normal operations across the Gulf," Shell said.

BHP Billiton, which shut production at and fully evacuated its two platforms on Friday, said it was restaffing Monday and production was expected to resume on Tuesday.

Exxon Mobil Corp said the same about redeploying the portion of workers evacuated and restarting minimal output shut in, about 1,000 bpd of oil and 7 mmcfd of gas.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), the only U.S. port capable of offloading foreign crude from giant tankers, also said offloadings would resume after they were halted on Sunday because of rough weather.

Through that weather, the LOOP continued to deliver crude to refineries from underground storage caverns that can hold up to 67 million barrels, spokeswoman Barb Hesterman said.

Energy markets traditionally keep a close eye on storms passing through the region for output disruptions and possible supply squeezes.

The risk to markets because of Gulf storms has diminished slightly in recent years as the increased development of shale deposits fueled a boom in onshore oil and gas production.

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  • Black skimmer

    In this Sunday, June 24, 2012 photo provided by Lou Newman, a black skimmer chick is covered in sand at Anna Maria beach in Bradenton, Fla. Wind and waves produced by Tropical Storm Debby destroyed many nesting bird sites and turtle nests along the west coast of Florida. (AP Photo/Lou Newman)

  • Kursty Setty, right, reacts as she stands in her uncle's flooded pet store Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Personal photographs float under the floodwater outside homes in Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    A man paddles through flood waters from Tropical Storm Debby in downtown Live Oak, Fla. on Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The National Hurricane Center says Debby has weakened to a tropical depression as it continues to move across Florida, bringing flooding to many areas. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Matt Stamey)

  • Shanne Piet, right, transfers one of his live snakes into a dry cage with help from J.D. Crews after opening up his flooded pet shop in Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Tarra Piet, right, is embraced by her cousin Kursty Setty as they stand in Piet's fathers' flooded pet store Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Kursty Setty paddles a small boat away from her uncle's flooded pet shop in Live Oak Fla., Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Dozens of homes and businesses were flooded by torrential rains from Tropical Storm Debby. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Black skimmer

    In this Sunday, June 24, 2012 photo provided by Lou Newman, a black skimmer chick is covered in sand at Anna Maria beach in Bradenton, Fla. Wind and waves produced by Tropical Storm Debby destroyed many nesting bird sites and turtle nests along the west coast of Florida. (AP Photo/Lou Newman)

  • Shawn Thomas, with the Clay County Engineering Division, checks out CR 218 west of Middleburg, Fla., where the road washed out overnight Wednesday, June 26, 2012. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby were the cause of the floods. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • Clay County engineers and contractors inspect CR 218 west of Middleburg, Fla. Wednesday, June 27, 2012, after the road washed out overnight. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby were the cause of the floods. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • Natalie Bickford, left, reacts to the flooding of her neighbors' homes as she take a boat ride with her husband Mark Bickford, right, and Chad Mullen in the floodwaters of Black Creek Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in Middleburg, Fla. Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Debby were the cause of the floods. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Will Dickey)

  • A home is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • Bill Koon prepares to trailer a boat after using it to move about floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • A home is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • A home is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • Mickey Anderson, 64, arrives at his house after wading through floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • A street sign is inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • Jarred Schreck, 12, second from left, and his neighbors Reba Hurst and her husband Wendell use a boat to get to their house inundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Debby in Lafayette County, Fla., on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Debby destroyed homes and businesses, washed away roads and flooded neighborhoods in Florida before the once-large tropical storm drifted out to sea Wednesday, leaving behind a sopping mess. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Doug Finger)

  • In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by Plaquemines Parish Government, tern chicks washed out of their nests huddle on higher ground on Cat Island West, due to a rising tide in advance of Tropical Storm Debby, when it was categorized as a tropical depression, just outside of New Orleans in Barataria Bay. (AP Photo/Plaquemines Parish Government, P.J. Hahn)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    Water sneaks into a restaurant in Cedar Key, Fla. as Tropical Storm Debby churns on the Florida Gulf coast waiting to makes its way across the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • TROPICAL STORM DEBBY

    Waves crash against the coast in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. as wind, waves, and storm from Tropical Storm Debby pound the Florida panhandle Sunday, June 24, 2012. Louisiana's governor declared a state of emergency as the storm threatens to flood low-lying coastal areas. (AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily, Devon Ravine)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    High winds, high tide strike at the main street of Cedar Key, Fla., as Tropical Storm Debby makes it's way across the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, June 24, 2012. Parts of Florida, including the Panhandle, remain under a tropical storm warning as Debby churns off the Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by the Plaquemines Parish Government, a pelican nest is inundated on Cat Island West, due to a rising tide in advance of Tropical Storm Debby, when it was categorized as a tropical depression, in Barataria Bay, just outside of New Orleans. (AP Photo/P.J. Hahn, Plaquemines Parish Government, handout)

  • Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson walks on a section of a floating dock that broke loose during a storm surge from Tropical Storm Debby in Cedar Key, Fla., on Sunday, June 24, 2012. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin steps onto a section of a floating dock to secure it as strong storm surge and flooding are felt from Tropical Storm Debby in Cedar Key, Fla., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Sandlin said it was like riding a bronco trying to keep balance on the dock. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states and causing at least one death. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson clings to a section of a floating dock that broke free from the rest as strong storm surge and flooding are felt from Tropical Storm Debby, in Cedar Key, Fla., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Robinson tries to attach a chain to the dock section so it can be lifted out of the Gulf by a forklift. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states and causing at least one death. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • Cedar Key Police Chief Virgil Sandlin works on his hands an knees to secure a section of a floating dock as strong storm surge and flooding are felt from Tropical Storm Debby, in Cedar Key, Fla., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Sandlin said it was like riding a bronco trying to keep balance on the dock. Slow-moving Tropical Storm Debby's outer bands lashed Florida with rain and kicked up rough surf off Alabama on Sunday, prompting storm warnings for those states and causing at least one death. (AP Photo/The Gainesville Sun, Brad McClenny)

  • NOAA CLOUDS

    This NOAA satellite image taken Monday, June 25, 2012 at 1:45 a.m. EDT shows Tropical Storm Debby located about 90 miles southwest of Apalachicola, Florida with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph and higher gusts. A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect for areas from the Mississippi-Alabama border eastward to the Suwannee River Florida. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for areas south of the Suwannee River to Englewood, Florida. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

  • This photo provided by the Florida Highway Patrol shows a patrol car blocking passage on the Sunshine Skyway bridge near St. Petersburg, Fla. Monday, June 25, 2012. The bridge was closed in both directions after wind was reported at 52 miles per hour. Off the coast since the weekend, Tropical Storm Debby raked the Tampa Bay area with high wind and heavy rain in a drenching that could top 2 feet over the next few days and trigger widespread flooding. (AP Photo/Florida Highway Patrol)

  • Cars try to avoid a beach umbrella as it is pushed around by the high winds of Tropical Storm Debby in Panama City, Fla., on Monday, June 25, 2012. (AP Photo/The News Herald/Panama City, Fla., Andrew Wardlow)

  • In this June 19, 2012 photo provided by the Plaquemines Parish Government, a tern chick is washed out of its nest on Cat Island Westdue to a rising tide in advance of Tropical Storm Debby, when it was categorized as a tropical depression, just outside of New Orleans in Barataria Bay. (AP Photo/Plaquemines Parish Government, P.J. Hahn)

  • Wendy Slaughter, left, helps Pat Boninsh, center, tie down the covering on their Cedar Key, Fla., boat rental docking porch as Jacqueline Slaughter, right, makes sure it's complete. High winds and rain from Tropical Storm Debby drenches the Gulf coast as it makes it's way across the Gulf of Mexico early Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

  • Hank Parker

    Surfer Hank Parker heads out to catch waves in Dauphin Island, Ala., Sunday, June 24, 2012, as Tropical Storm Debby churned off the Gulf Coast, leaving wary residents to closely watch a storm whose path has so far been difficult to forecast. Warnings were issued for coastal Alabama, low-lying coastal areas in Louisiana and parts of Florida, including the Panhandle. (AP Photo/Mobile Register, Mike Kittrell)

  • Tropical Storm Debby

    Police Chief Darryl Wilson waves in surfers as a storm warning is issued in Dauphin Island, Ala., Sunday, June 24, 2012, as Tropical Storm Debby churned off the Gulf Coast, leaving wary residents to closely watch a storm whose path has so far been difficult to forecast. Warnings were issued for coastal Alabama, low-lying coastal areas in Louisiana and parts of Florida, including the Panhandle. (AP Photo/Mobile Register, Mike Kittrell)

  • Peggy Hill, on vacation from Pittsburgh, Pa., runs alongside a cliff eroded into the beach, caused by waves spawned by Tropical Storm Debby, in Ocean Reef Park on Singer Island in Riviera Beach, Fla., Wednesday afternoon, June 27, 2012. At the top of the bank, orange and yellow markers designating sea turtle nests sit perilously close to the edge. (AP Photo/Palm Beach Postm Lannis Waters)