US: deepwater facility planned at Port FourchonNews // October 4, 2016
The Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC) is moving forward with plans to develop a 'next-generation' deepwater facility at Port Fourchon, thanks to a newly signed agreement with the Edward Wisner Donation granting GLPC a Right of First Refusal on over 900 acres of property immediately south of the port.
A separate Memorandum of Understanding between GLPC and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New Orleans District was signed last month after nearly two years of discussion and negotiation, allowing GLPC to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a deeper draft channel into Port Fourchon. Coupled with the Corps study, this new property agreement will usher in a new era of growth for the port.
The Edward Wisner Donation Advisory Committee, the entity which manages the Wisner Trust land, voted to approve a Right of First Refusal agreement granting GLPC the ability to begin promoting its next-generation development, Fourchon Island, and working toward framing up a full lease document for the 900+ acre property.
The port describes the Fourchon Island development as "the Gulf’s first purpose-built, deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility to service the major maintenance needs of the deepwater oil and gas rigs Port Fourchon services."
“What is so exciting to us about this deeper water development is that it will allow us to truly service the entire industrial life cycle of the assets for our tenants and their customers in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Chett Chiasson, Executive Director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. “Today’s Right of First Refusal document gives us first call on the property and allows us to truly engage the marketplace in discussions on their needs for this facility and what features are most important to our customers.”
The USACE study is to consider deepening the main channel of Bayou Lafourche through Belle Pass, from its intersection with Pass Fourchon out into the Gulf of Mexico, to a depth of between 35ft and 50ft and to a distance of approximately six miles.
The study will also look at the economics of developing the Fourchon Island area as a rig repair and refurbishment facility, which will presumably enable Port Fourchon’s tenants to bring in deepwater rigs and assets for significant maintenance and repair work which can only be accommodated currently in other states or overseas. This next-generation project will add up to about 900 acres of slips and industrial land when fully developed.
Perry Gisclair, GLPC Board President, added, “Currently, we service over 90 per cent of all of the deepwater activity in the Gulf, and we know that many of these rigs that we service were built right here in this region. They are serviced by companies based in Port Fourchon, and now we hope to add a cutting-edge deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility at the most central and accessible location in the entire Gulf of Mexico. This will help our community to pick up work that currently has to go as far away as South Korea to get done, which in turn, will help the energy industry reduce their costs and downtime when refurbishing their deepwater assets in the coming years.”
Added benefits of the project include the ability to utilize dredged materials as a vital borrow source for coastal restoration works in sediment-starved locations along the Louisiana coast as well as the likely result of hundreds of acres of wetlands being created in the Port Fourchon area as part of the project’s mitigation requirements.
It is anticipated that the USACE deeper draft feasibility study will be complete by early 2019, allowing Fourchon Island development to commence in earnest around 2020. Preliminary infrastructure necessary to access the property will likely be underway well before that.