Buoyed by deepwater activity that shows no sign of drying up anytime soon, Port Fourchon is sidestepping the economic malaise gripping most of the nation and is not just coping, but flourishing.
While cash-strapped independents operating on the continental shelf have pulled back appreciably, the bread and butter for Port Fourchon is the deepwater, where it functions as the primary support base for more than 90% of existing projects. According to a recent Minerals Management Service (MMS) study, that bread and butter is in no danger of going off the shelves in the foreseeable future. In early 2009, the federal agency listed 59 “pending” deepwater projects in the Gulf of Mexico, which is in addition to the 33 wells currently being drilled in deep and ultra deepwater. Factoring in the 135 deepwater fields already developed, there are nearly 230 deepwater projects in need of products and services flowing from the port.
The port’s daily traffic count appears to confirm that the global recession has not yet made its way into Port Fourchon, the southernmost port in Louisiana, strategically nestled on 1,300 acres at the mouth of Bayou Lafourche in Louisiana’s southernmost parish of Lafourche.
“Interestingly enough, our daily traffic count in January (2009) was 13% higher than it was in January 2008. So, as you can see, our activity level certainly hasn’t diminished here,” says Ted Falgout, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC), who will retire at the end of the year after 30 years at the helm of Port Fourchon.
Today, more than 250 operators and service and supply companies, from international conglomerates to home-grown, family-owned enterprises, operate out of Port Fourchon. The port’s director of Economic Development, Chett Chiasson, who will succeed Falgout in January, says that number promises to rise considerably as companies stand in line to acquire space being made available through the entity’s aggressive northern expansion project.
“We’ve been averaging about one new lease a month and as fast as we can build these new facilities, they’re taken,” he says.