Port progress keeps cargo moving

SCIA making a difference
November 13, 2012
Thibodaux growing slowly and steadily
November 13, 2012
SCIA making a difference
November 13, 2012
Thibodaux growing slowly and steadily
November 13, 2012

One certainty of Louisiana’s working coastal parishes is the presence of strong ports of commercial activity. In the Tri-parish region oil and gas activity is being joined by added industrial opportunities and positioned to enter into international trade.

Terrebonne Port Commission

The Terrebonne Port Commission is a political subdivision of Louisiana with jurisdiction throughout Terrebonne Parish.

The Port of Terrebonne is positioned on a 680-acre site off Industrial Boulevard, and sets on the Houma Navigation Canal one-half mile from connecting with the Intracoastal Waterway. This location puts the port in strategic alignment with the Gulf of Mexico, so it can handle cargo flows and marine traffic on all waterways.

“This year we are renovating the old Roscoe Building [at 1116 Bayou Lacarpe Road and intersecting with Van Avenue] and preparing to lease it to the U.S. Customs Service,” Terrebonne Port Commission Executive Director David Rabalais said of the port’s most recent development. “The building itself is about 18,000 square feet, but we are going to lease about 8,200 square feet to customs.”

Rabalais said additional tenants are in line to lease segments of the Roscoe Building, but declined to name those businesses at this time. The facility is projected to be filled by the completion of 2013.

The Weatherford Building on Industrial Boulevard was donated to the Port Commission during 2011. Rabalais said with some renovation work complete a section of that facility is ready to lease to additional clients that have not yet finalized arrangements.

“We are also planning to pave Port Court, our main road, in early 2013,” Rabalais said.

The Terrebonne Port Commission has eight active leases with room for already permitted development of 200 acres.

The port’s executive director said he would like to lure ships to Louisiana once the new Panama Canal opens in 2015.

The oil and gas services Port of Terrebonne is not expected to receive general cargo ships, but Rabalais said added traffic could increase economic activity for the region if an offshore facility were constructed in the Gulf of Mexico and in line with the Houma Navigational Canal. “I think there are several entities looking at that,” he said.

Revenue for the Terrebonne Port Commission ranges from $300,000 to $500,000 per year.

Lafourche Port Commission

The Lafourche Port Commission manages 130 leases with 80 active tenants on 1,400 acres. The subdivision of Lafourche Parish is developing an additional 400 acres including a new 7,000-linear-foot Slip C.

During 2012, the west side of Slip C, while being constructed, was entirely leased or offered right of first refusal to new businesses.

“Even before the dredge material was put in place to develop the land we were getting leases,” Lafourche Port Commission Chett Chaisson said. “It looks like 2013 will be a good year for getting infrastructure on the ground as far as tenant facilities coming in and being built.”

Chaisson said that Port Fourchon rebounded during 2012 from the impact of the April 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and subsequent drilling moratorium. “We are still on the incline, but all indications are that we are going to be in a very dramatic position to service the needs of the industry during the next several years,” he said.

One element of the Lafourche Port Commission that does not get immediate attention is the Leonard Miller Jr. Airport in Galliano. “We have done a considerable amount of expansion there,” Chaisson said.

Work at the small private fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter facility has included adding a complete parallel taxi-way and increased activity. The airport averages 1,400 operations per month. “We are going to see in 2013 a large expansion at the airport with tenant facilities.” The airport has been known as a transport center for offshore activity, search and rescue missions and mapping fish spotting.

Unlike Rabalais, Chaisson said he does not anticipate much from the Panama Canal expansion for coastal Louisiana. “Most of our things are on deepwater activity and the ramp-up of that,” he said. “That is where our increase of business is expected.”

Port Fourchon services 90 percent of all deepwater activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Chaisson said 95 percent of all new deepwater drilling plans are slated with the port being the primary service base.

Port of Morgan City

The Port of Morgan City has been referred to as the birthplace of the offshore oil exploration. Since 1957, it has been access route for both domestic and international.

The port is positioned at the confluence of the Atchafalaya River and the Intracoastal Waterway, with direct access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Morgan City is home to a Congressionally authorized 20 feet deep and 400 feet wide channel designed to offer four-way waterway transportation.

According to Port of Morgan City Executive Director Jeff Hoffpauir, dredging of the Atchafalaya River has been a major accomplishment for 2012.

“For the coming year we are still going forward with our project for agitation dredging,” Hoffpauir said. “This is a new innovative concept at the mouth of the river to keep the river at its 20 foot depth.”

Hoffpauir said because keeping the Atchafalaya River open is a continual battle and his agency has made an arrangement with Terrebonne Parish to transport sediment to needed marshlands for coastal restoration. Dredging of the Atchafalaya costs between $10 million and $20 million a year depending on conditions.

“A dredge just left the barge channel [Friday],” Hoffpauir said. “So we will have 20-foot channel there for approximately six weeks. After that it starts filling in with sediment. So we are looking at the process of agitating it and keeping it in suspension so boats can get in and out.”

Hoffpauir said that the dredging would not only benefit Morgan City, but also Houma and Thibodaux.

The port’s executive director said by Dec. 1, he intends to announce the addition of a shipping line at Morgan City. The unidentified line is expected to bring regular, direct shipping between the Tri-parish port and destinations in Mexico, Central American and the Caribbean.

The Port of Morgan City offers more than 200 private dock facilities with barge-mounted cranes capable to handle 5,000 tons, track cranes for loads of 300 tons and mobile cranes that can carry up to 150 tons.

Warehouse space is approximately 20,000 square feet along with an 800-foot dock for large vessels.

This port is one in the Tri-parish area that contains a rail spur for the Burlington Northern, with access to the U.S. and Union Pacific rail system. Trucking freight has easy access from the waterfront to U.S. Highway 90.

Industrial port activity is common for coastal Louisiana. Above, the Edison Chouest $29.5 million LaShip dry dock facility is one of several celebrated additions at the Port of Terrebonne and is scheduled for completion in February 2013. To the right, the Port of Morgan City offers more than 200 private docks and facilities offering heavy lift, barge-mounted cranes with capacities to 5,000 tons, track cranes to 300 tons, and mobile cranes to 150 tons. Right and below, the Greater Lafourche Port Commission facilitates economic growth of the region by maximizing a flow of trade and commerce with both service vessel activity at Port Fourchon and resources at South Lafourche Leonard Miller Jr. Airport.