A proposed $1.5 billion deepwater port in Cameron Parish moved a step closer to reality Tuesday when the Louisiana Public Facilities Authority gave preliminary approval to issue bonds to finance part of the project.
Before any bonds are issued, the Louisiana State Bond Commission must give its approval.
Under the preliminary agreement with the authority, Port Cameron LLC will be able to issue bond anticipation notes — short-term financing usually paid off by a larger, future bond issue — to cover interim financing needs.
Port Cameron spokeswoman Lori LeBlanc said the amount of the bond anticipation notes is $35 million for development costs associated with the first phase of the 500-acre project on the Calcasieu Ship Channel that would serve as a staging port for oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Port Cameron’s application to the authority requested a bond issue of not more than $2 billion for the project, which will be built in four phases.
Port Cameron Director of Operations Ted Falgout said the board of trustees’ decision to approve the bond issue application and preliminary agreement will allow the project to move forward in securing the necessary funding.
The process is expected to take 90-120 days.
Gaining approval to issue all of the bonds needed for the project could take considerably longer.
Among other things, the state doesn’t have the capacity available in a single year to cover the cost of such a large project, said Martin Walke, vice president of economic and program development for the authority. The port will have to be built over a number of years.
Still, Walke said the port’s potential economic impact is enormous and the project already has drawn some strong partners. The port’s economic impact study shows when fully leased the facility will create about $2.8 billion in sales and 10,000 jobs in the state.
The preliminary agreement is Port Cameron’s third major announcement in as many weeks.
Two weeks ago, Port Cameron officials said they expect to begin construction in November and complete the first phase of the project by the third quarter of 2017. Port Cameron said Fortune 500 real estate services firm JLL would be the project’s leasing agent.
A week ago, Port Cameron announced it had brought aboard Citigroup Global Markets Inc. as financing manager for the project.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.