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Sunday, September 22, 2019

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Port Fourchon releases master growth plan

Port Fourchon releases master growth plan

The Greater Lafourche Port Commission recently released a 20 year master plan for growth that it believes will address needs of the port that will allow it to continue to grow as an economic hub for the region.

The study, conducted over several months by CB&I Coastal, Inc. and Dr. Loren Scott & Associates of Baton Rouge, determined that the single greatest factor to address for port growth into the next two decades is the deepening of Belle Pass.

To that end, the Port Commission is in the process of obtaining the approvals necessary to conduct the initial study of deepening the pass to a depth of 50 feet. Current depth authorization stands at 27 feet.

“The feasibility study for deepening Belle Pass to a depth of 50 feet should take approximately two years,” said Greater Lafourche Port Commission Executive Director Chett Chiasson. “The 20 year plan identified this as the most pressing measure for growth and we are taking the initial steps to address this. We believe that with an eventual deepening of Belle Pass that Fourchon will be able to not only retain its current oil and gas customer base but also expand it to include things such as servicing of deepwater rig repair and refurbishment.”

The study cited two other areas of growth constraints to the port that will likely need to be addressed in the future and they include limited available lands ready for development and limited access to land based transportation (highways) beyond that provided by Louisiana Highway 1.

The highway issue is being addressed with the construction of an elevated highway to the port that will eventually reach northward to Golden Meadow and the available land issue will eventually be addressed with the development of land using material from current and future dredging work.

“The single most transformative goal for Port Fourchon’s future is increasing terminal access and capacity and to achieve that, the deepening of Belle Pass to a 50 foot depth is the most critical element in achieving this objective,” said Dustin Malbrough, an engineer with CB&I Coastal.

According to economist Dr. Loren Scott, deepwater exploration and development wells in the Gulf of Mexico likely to be serviced by Port Fourchon will nearly double in the next 20 years and production (barrels of oil) will increase over the next 20 years, producing between 767 million and 931 million barrels by 2035.

“With increased offshore activity being projected well into the future, the port needed a long term plan to help us identify what needed to be improved so we can meet the economic challenges of the coming decades. We believe this 20 year master plan helps us to clarify and understand those needs so we can begin to address them now which will hopefully lead to more jobs and economic activity for our area as we move down the road,” Chiasson said.