Obviously, Port Fourchon has not been immune to the decline in oil prices and the across-the-board effect that it is having on our tenants, who both operate in, and service, the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. And, as with the other challenges that we have faced over the past several years, the port commission will continue to do what is both feasible and in the best interests of all our stakeholders, and that includes our tenants and community, as well.
That said, the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, even in today’s economic climate, remains the envy of the global oil and gas industry. Operators are still investing heavily to exploit these world-class reserves, while, of course, also managing the realities of today’s environment. And, as with the industry, the port is well aware that the current situation certainly is not indicative of the future. As such, we continue to aggressively plan to ensure that we are well-equipped to meet the tremendous demand that we all know will come. Our Northern Expansion project continues full-bore, and this summer we hope to begin initial development on Slip D, which we have designed at 1,000 ft wide, to accommodate the larger support vessels that the industry will require in the future. The port, likewise, is studying the feasibility of increasing the draft, to meet the unique needs of these vessels.
Notably, like the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the port also has drawn a considerable degree of national coverage recently. Some of you may have seen the front-page article in the Jan. 7 issue of USA Today, under the subhead, “Oil Prices Slip, but Louisiana Port Thrives.” Shortly afterward, Commissioner Chuckie Cheramie was quoted in a New York Times story on the impact of Port Fourchon on the community.
And, that impact on both the community and Louisiana is huge, as we learned late last year with release of the updated “Economic Impact of Port Fourchon” study by Dr. Loren Scott. The latest numbers show Port Fourchon accounting, statewide, for more than $2.8 billion in sales and $650 million in household earnings. As importantly, the 10,804 jobs directly related to Port Fourchon were documented as being greater than the combined, total employment in 30 parishes.
These impressive statistics, and the national recognition, clearly illustrate the enormous vitality of Port Fourchon. We will continue to take every possible step to ensure it remains vital into the future.
We are now in the final draft stage of our 20-year Master Plan, which we have broken down into five-, 10- and 20-year increments. As this plan very clearly reflects, we know precisely where we want to go, and we are firmly pointed in that direction. And, that direction has us exploring all opportunities to meet the industry’s needs as we go into the future. Our overriding mission is to maintain and reinforce our namesake as “The Gulf’s Energy Connection,” and as its premier oil and gas service port.—Chett Chiasson
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