Construction at Port Fourchon’s latest slip continues as port officials plan another and look for even deeper expansions.
Slip C, the port’s 700-foot-wide and 7,000-foot-long latest expansion, has been dredged and bulkhead construction is underway.
Greater Lafourche Port Commission Director Chett Chiasson said every inch of the new waterfront has been leased or has a company with the right of first refusal.
Chiasson said about $25 million has been spent on the expansion thus far.
The high demand for waterfront space is indicative of steady activity in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, he added.
“We are growing really fast,” he said.
Rough calculations project the port to see $265 million in private investment next year and $295 million in 2016, Chiasson said.
Meanwhile, port officials have begun the paperwork gauntlet that ends with approval of another slip, to be known as slip D.
The port is located in the watery marshes of south Lafourche, so dredging material to build land follows regulatory approval.
Chiasson said the new slip will be wider than previous ones to allow more space for mooring.
“It’s knowing the vessels are larger. They are going to be servicing the ultra deepwater Gulf of Mexico, so we project that this is best thing to do,” Chiasson said.
The port’s future expansion may be focused more on depth than area.
Chiasson said the port is seeking approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct the required feasibility study on deepening the pass leading from the port to the Gulf from its current 27-foot or so depth.
The plans are to conduct the study at two different depths, 35 feet and 50 feet.
“For the vessels to service the industry, 35 feet or so is good for them,” Chiasson said. “We are also going to investigate 50 feet in order to be able to attract the deepwater drilling rigs for repair and refurbishment.”
Currently the lion’s share of deepwater rig and platform repair along the Gulf takes place on the Texas coast or, expensively, out at sea.
Chiasson said being able to offer space for such rigs to moor and be repaired would be attractive to potential tenants as the deepwater fleet matures.
He added that the deepening wouldn’t be focused on attracting container traffic.
“We are not really looking at that. We know what our niche is. We know oil and gas service is our business and we are fine with that,” Chiasson said.