Expansion Continues at Port Fourchon

by | Thursday, July 17, 2014 |

Port Fourchon’s most recent expansion project has progressed so quickly that Port officials are already beginning the process of another expansion.


The latest expansion of Slip C has moved through the dredging phase, and bulkhead construction is about to begin. Says Greater Lafourche Port Commission Director, Chett Chiasson, “We actually have the majority of Slip C spoken for either by lease or right of first refusal. We have all but about 3,000 feet on the east side that does not have a company's name on it.”

Chiasson expressed that the Port has just approved a $15 million bid for 2,600 feet of bulkhead construction on Slip C – the largest single project that the Port has ever undertaken.

The bulk of the property on the slip is occupied by oil and gas service companies, like Edison Chouest Offshore. Edison Chouest plans to acquire more property on the new slip when the expansion is completed. Bollinger Shipyards has also expressed interest in the new slip, as the company has plans for a larger rig and vessel repair facility. Danos, Harvey Gulf Marine International, and Schlumberger have also voiced their interest in the slip.

Further Expansion

Slip C is created from shallow, open water, so dredges must be used to build the embankment, deepen the slip, and mitigate for affected wetlands. The Port commission has already created approximately 700 acres of land in the last ten years, and is currently in the process of creating an additional 360 acres through the expansion.

Looking to the future, another slip has begun the process of mitigation and approvals needed for expansion; however, that process will take several years.

Airport Improvements

In addition to those expansion projects, the airport is also undergoing improvements to better serve the oil and gas industry, as well as to diversify its uses for everything from training to recreation to emergency response.

Said Airport Manager, Joe Wheeler, “The majority of our operations are people going offshore to work. We also have people using the airport for other reasons, and we want to grow that also. There is too much stuff going on around here economically not to have a large airport.”

Wheeler adds that activity at the airport has been increasing over the last several years, and will likely increase again this year. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts that the airport will grow more than any other in the state over the next two decades. Last year, the airport handled over 20,000 landings and take offs, which is up from 12,500 in 2011. The Port Commission is making various improvements on the facility’s capacity and safety to handle the increased volume, as part of its master plan that looks ten years into the future of the Port.

Deeper Water

Chiasson thinks that deeper water at the Port is essential. Large boats and deepwater rigs need deep channels to access the Port’s services. Said Chiasson, “We know oil and gas is our niche. We do that well. We will continue to do that. We have to look at what we can do to enhance oil and gas services, rig repair services as well as the opportunities for deeper draft into the port could bring to oil and gas services and whatever happens like that.”

With talk of the Port becoming an import-export point following the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion in 2015, the master plan improvements revolve primarily around these deep channels.Chiasson adds, “Every port is as good as its draft. To be able to service oil and gas better and other things, we are going to have to evaluate that.”

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