NEW IBERIA — Two fabrication companies announced Tuesday they have been awarded multiple projects that will put hundreds of people to work at the Port of Iberia, welcome news to an oil and gas industry that has laid off thousands of workers.
Dynamic Energy Services International, formerly Dynamic Industries, has been awarded two contracts, company President Emile Dumesnil told port officials.
Sasol Ltd. has awarded Dynamic fabrication parts of its $8 billion ethane cracker project being built in Lake Charles. Dumesnil said Dynamic is testing welders at its east yard at the Port of Iberia for work that by early 2016 should put 300 of all crafts to work. Dumesnil said the Sasol components will be barged to Lake Charles.
Dynamic’s second project will be piping for the deepwater Shell Appomattox project.
RamFab, a company new to the Port of Iberia, also has been awarded part of the Sasol ethane cracker project. Company representative Steve Miguez said RamFab bought and refurbished the old McDermott facility on South Curtis Lane. Miguez said RamFab’s Sasol project alone would put hundreds of people to work, from truck drivers to welders to riggers and operators.
“If anything at all, it’ll put a Band-Aid on our situation,” said Craig Romero, executive director at the port.
Dumesnil said Dynamic traditionally built shallow-water jackets and decks, but activity in the shallow water has been greatly reduced. He said the Sasol contract is a venture into the petrochemical industry, which is new for the company.
“We swerved a bit,” Dumesnil said.
Dynamic will perform the work in the company’s east yard, which was closed to big oil and gas fabrication projects as the market narrowed over the last few years.
The company’s west yard, site of the former Unifab International Inc., had been Dynamic’s primary fabrication facility in south-central Louisiana. That changed when management got into a legal fight with Dynamic’s former owner and CEO, Michel Moreno.
Moreno still owns the west yard and its facilities, but the property is vacant and tied up in litigation proceedings with Goldman Sachs Bank, which loaned Moreno $52.4 million in October 2013. Moreno put up the west yard and property he owns in Baton Rouge as collateral for the loan.
The Dynamic and RamFab announcements were the latest good news for the Port of Iberia.
In August, four other companies announced they would either locate at the port or expand existing operations there.
Bayou Companies, which applies anticorrosion coating to oil and gas pipes, announced it was building $39 million in upgrades to provide specialty coating for one customer’s deepwater project. Bayou Coatings, which has had a presence at the Port of Iberia for over 70 years, has 300 employees. When the upgrades are completed in 2016, the company will add more workers.
Chart Energy and Chemicals Inc. also has announced it will expand operations at the port with a $40 million upgrade. Chart manufactures cryogenic equipment used in LNG plants that convert natural gas to a liquid for storage and transport.
Two other companies, Logan Industries International Corp. and Ram Design LLC, have said they’re moving to waterfront properties at the port.
The announcements are a bright spot in an otherwise dismal period for the oil and gas industry. In just 16 months, the price of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark oil, has fallen from above $100 per barrel to the $40s. The fall in price has led to thousands of job losses and bleak financial reports.
On Tuesday, a barrel of WTI scheduled for delivery in November sold for about $45.60.