Shutdown shouldn’t impact port, director says

MORGAN CITY, La. -- McDermott International’s departure from its fabrication yard in Amelia should not affect how much money the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers receives to dredge the waterways near the Port of Morgan City, Port Executive Director Jerry Hoffpauir said.

Hoffpauir doubts that McDermott leaving will have a long-term effect on funding the port gets for dredging, he said.

The Morgan City area still has Bollinger Shipyard and other big oilfield industry companies that generate business in the area, Hoffpauir said. “As the oilfield picks up and as traffic picks up in the bar and the bay, the cost-benefit ratio should still be intact,” he said.

McDermott’s announcement Monday that it will close its facilities in Amelia within the year marks the end of an era, but expectations are that a company will probably move to the yard after McDermott leaves, Hoffpauir said.

McDermott has been part of the community for more than 50 years, Hoffpauir said. “It’s just kind of sad. It’s been an icon here for years,” he said. A lot of people in the area have grown up with the idea in mind that they will go work for McDermott when they get out of school, Hoffpauir said.

The announcement is “a sign of the times,” he said. Hoffpauir thinks that a company will come in and lease the facility and start producing again, he said. “This is where it all began so the infrastructure’s here. The knowledge is here. The experience is here. We fully expect someone to come in and lease the facility,” Hoffpauir said.

The port continually battles to maintain the congressionally mandated 20-foot depth in the Atchafalaya River, he said. In response to McDermott’s statement that a reason for moving its yard is that the Morgan City area has a lack of deep water access, Hoffpauir said there is no community in Louisiana that can handle companies’ needs for deep water to navigate the waterways other than maybe Lake Charles.

The big competitive area for deepwater projects is Corpus Christi because it has deep water and the infrastructure needed, he said. “Corpus Christi seems to be where a lot of that’s heading for domestic production,” Hoffpauir said.

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