NEW IBERIA — Three oil and gas service companies told Port of Iberia officials on Tuesday they plan to expand operations at the port and add employees, bucking the trend of energy companies announcing layoffs and tightened budgets due to low commodity prices.
“We see a very brisk future over the next five years,” said Eddie Clay, manager for Chart Energy and Chemicals Inc.’s Port of Iberia’s plant.
Clay told the port’s Board of Commissioners that Chart, an international corporation, was planning almost $40 million in upgrades to its existing port property. Chart’s port facility manufactures cryogenic equipment used to turn natural gas into a cold liquid for storage and transport.
Clay said Chart had locked in an $85 million LNG project that starts in February. He said the company is in negotiations for other LNG projects worth $2.25 billion.
Patrick Vilyus, vice president of Logan Industries International Corporation, said Logan, too, is expecting to ramp up work on deepwater Gulf of Mexico projects and that the company needed a facility in Louisiana to store and service its customers’ equipment.
Logan is a part of DGI, Doedijns Group International, and manufactures a range of components for oil and gas exploration and production. The company is headquartered in Hempstead, Texas, northwest of Houston.
Logan will operate on 10.6 waterfront acres at the port.
Next to Logan, Ram Design LLC plans to set up shop on 18 acres at one of the port’s slips. Ram Design offers an array of services for deepwater production operations, including detecting and measuring corrosion in deepwater risers. Ram Design’s owner Richard Romero said business is brisk.
Charter, Ram Design and Logan appeared before the port’s board and Executive Director Craig Romero on Tuesday to ask for upgrades to the land leased from the port and for infrastructure improvements.
The upbeat news from all three companies follows setbacks for the port.
Dynamic Industries’ west yard was shuttered during a court dispute between the company’s former owner, Michel Moreno, and Dynamic management. In another court case, Goldman Sachs Bank sued Moreno in July for nonpayment of a $58.4 million loan. Moreno reportedly borrowed the money by pledging the west yard at the port and other property he owns in Baton Rouge as collateral.
In early 2014, Danos, a 68-year-old service company with headquarters in Larose, announced it would build a $23 million fabrication facility at the Port of Iberia. Executive Vice President Eric Danos at the time cited a lack of skilled craftsmen in southeast Louisiana as a reason for locating at the New Iberia port.
But in August 2014, the company changed its plans when a former McDermott yard became available in Amelia, east of Morgan City.
Another company, Louisiana Coating and Blasting, agreed in 2014 to set up a yard at the port but later backed out.
The energy sector is 13 months into falling oil prices, which have declined over 60 percent during the period. In June 2014, the per-barrel price of oil topped $106. On Tuesday, the price was just above $42, according to Bloomberg.com.