Offshore drillers doing business in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico might soon – well, soonish – have a ‘nearby’ deepwater port where they will be able to have their drilling rigs repaired and spruced up at a lower cost.
Namely, Louisiana’s Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC) is pressing ahead with developing what has been described as the first purpose-built deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility in the Gulf of Mexico, to be located at Port Fourchon.
The port commission has signed a deal with the Edward Wisner Donation, granting it a right of first refusal on over 900 acres of property immediately south of the port.
The Commission also signed a memorandum of understanding e with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) of New Orleans District last month after two years of discussion and negotiation, allowing GLPC to conduct a feasibility study for a deeper draft channel into Port Fourchon.
The study will also look at the economics of developing the Fourchon Island area as the Gulf’s first purpose-built, deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility, which will allow 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.”
Development to start in 2020
Chett Chiasson, Executive Director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, said: “What’s 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.”
The USACE study is set 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 35 and 50 feet and a distance of approximately six miles.
Perry Gisclair, GLPC Board President, added: “Currently, we service over 90% 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.
“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.”
It is anticipated that the USACE deeper draft feasibility study will be complete by early 2019, allowing Fourchon Island development to start around 2020. Construction of the preliminary infrastructure necessary will, according to the Port, likely be underway well before that.