By Liz Hampton (Reuters) – Offshore energy companies have started looking for new bases away from devastated ports in Louisiana as oil and gas companies scramble to resume operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Port Fourchon, a key hub for the offshore industry, was criticized by Ida on Sunday when it made landfall with winds of over 240 km / h. Supply boat, fuel and air ferry services still could not access the facilities on Wednesday due to extensive damage from the storm.
Dozens of oil and gas companies operate in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, which supplies 1.7 million barrels per day – or about 16% – of the country’s oil production. The nearby Port Fourchon and Houma supply companies are critical links in this production, providing food, fuel, equipment and transport by boat and helicopter to deep-water platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. .
“The heart of the offshore oil industry has been directly affected,” said Tony Odak, chief operating officer at Stone Oil Distributor, which supplies diesel and other fuels to offshore companies. “Everyone is scrambling to be up and running as soon as possible. “
Port Fourchon was submerged by a storm surge of 12 to 14 feet (3.7 to 4.3 meters) and recorded a gust of wind of up to 190 mph (305 km / h), a port official estimated. The US Coast Guard is monitoring its waters and plans to reopen the port to maritime traffic soon.
“We are working to do it as quickly as possible. We’re not talking about weeks, we’re talking about days, ”said Coast Guard Captain Will Watson, New Orleans Area Commander.
But relocations have started.
“Cameron, Intercoastal City and Galveston are all being considered” for new offshore supply centers, said Brad James, managing director of EnterpriseOffshore Drilling. “Some customers are considering bases in Mississippi and Alabama,” he added.
Clair Marceaux, general manager of Cameron Parish Port in western Louisiana, about 125 miles (200 km) west of Port Fourchon, responded to requests for space from offshore operators and suppliers.
“It can fill up quickly,” she said in a telephone interview, interrupted by at least eight emails asking for availability at the port.
Cameron Parish currently has no heliports in operation, after three have been closed in recent years due to the slowdown in offshore activity. These could be restarted if demand picks up, Marceaux said.
Tony Odak of Stone Oil has said his company will expand operations at an existing Cameron facility. But he said he will rebuild himself in Port Fourchon.
“There isn’t a lot of infrastructure in Cameron,” he said.
Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York; edited by Richard Pullin
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