Port Leases Property for Next Generation of Port Facilities, Advances Toward Approval of Deeper Channel

IMAGE: Fourchon Island Rendering

IMAGE: An artist’s rendering of the proposed drilling rig repair and refurbishment facility planned for Port Fourchon on Fourchon Island, including a 50 foot deep channel in Belle Pass and a 30 foot deep channel in Bayou Lafourche north of Pass Fourchon.

PORT FOURCHON, LA – The Greater Lafourche Port Commission (GLPC) took a major step forward in its plans to develop the next generation of Deepwater port facilities at Port Fourchon, thanks to an agreement signed recently by the Edward Wisner Donation Trust granting GLPC a lease of over 900 acres of property immediately south of the Port, to be known as Fourchon Island.

Also, this week, the Port submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) a Draft Feasibility Report and Draft Environmental Impact Statement following over two years of rigorous environmental, economic and engineering studies to determine the feasibility of a deeper draft channel in to Port Fourchon. These two significant milestones will usher in a new era of growth for the Port.

Recently, Mayor LaToya Cantrell, as the Trustee of the Edward Wisner Donation Trust, (the landowner) signed a long-term lease granting GLPC the use of 900+ acres of property on Fourchon Island.

This long-term lease secures access to this property for the future development of the Gulf’s first purpose-built, deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility to service the major maintenance and eventual decommissioning needs of the Deepwater oil and gas rigs Port Fourchon services. While GLPC will deepen the draft to the new facility as well as dredge the slip and build the land and basic infrastructure as part of its Fourchon Island development plan, it will be private industry who will eventually construct the rig repair and refurbishment facilities.

“We are excited to submit our Draft Feasibility Report and Draft EIS and secure this long-term lease so that we can kick-start the development of Fourchon Island and begin the process of securing a world-class tenant to build the final piece of the deepwater industry’s ultimate destination for whole of life services, maintenance, and refurbishment in the United States,” said Chett Chiasson, Executive Director of GLPC.

“In my role as the Trustee of the Wisner Donation Trust, I am happy to execute a lease which should encourage private investment in our working coast, provide jobs and opportunities for hundreds of residents in our region and which will ultimately construct or restore thousands of acres of wetlands to provide important natural defenses for our City and State,” said City of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

According to Chiasson, with the Port’s development since 2000, GLPC has constructed approximately 1,000 acres of wetlands through its environmental mitigation program, elevated and developed an additional 1,000+ acres which otherwise might have been lost to coastal land loss, and constructed the first successful maritime forest ridge restoration project in the state in line with its holistically resilient approach to development. This new phase of development on Fourchon Island would scale up those positive environmental works and present significant economic opportunities for the state and nation, Chiasson added.

The USACE study considered the environmental impacts and benefits to the nation of deepening the main channel of Bayou Lafourche through Belle Pass from its intersection with Pass Fourchon out in to the Gulf of Mexico to a depth of up to 50 feet, to a distance of approximately six miles. The study also considered the economics of developing the Fourchon Island area as a cutting edge deepwater rig repair and refurbishment facility to enable Port Fourchon’s tenants to bring in deepwater rigs and assets for significant maintenance and repair work which currently can only be accommodated in other states or overseas. This next generation development will add up to about 500 acres of slips and industrial land when fully developed, and the associated dredging work to deepen the Port’s entrance channel will generate millions of cubic yards of sediments to be used for wetland restoration projects.

Perry Gisclair, President of GLPC’s Board of Commissioners added: “Currently, we service over 90% of all deepwater activity in the Gulf, and we know that many of these rigs and platforms that we service were built right here in this region, they are serviced by companies based in Port Fourchon, and now we are two big steps closer to seeing a future tenant add a cutting edge rig repair and refurbishment facility at the most central and accessible location in the entire US Gulf of Mexico. This will help our community to pick up work that currently has to go as far away as Singapore or South Korea to get done, which in turn, will help the US energy industry reduce their costs and down time when refurbishing their deepwater assets in the coming years.”

“Probably the most exciting added benefit of the project is the ability to utilize the dredging works as a renewable borrow source for coastal restoration works in one of the most sediment-starved locations along the Louisiana coast for both the mitigation required and other coastal restoration projects that will result in thousands of acres of wetlands restored in order to complete the project’s development. What that means is that it provides us an opportunity to build a future which is holistically resilient to the forces of coastal land loss,” said Chiasson.

It is anticipated that the final version of the Feasibility Report and EIS will be submitted to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works in Washington, DC by the end of 2018 and authorized by mid-2019 with development to commence by the end of 2020. Work on some preliminary infrastructure necessary to access the property may commence ahead of the bulk of these works.

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