GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi officials say they have voided an incentive deal with Louisiana shipbuilder Edison Chouest because planned investments in a shipyard and hiring by a subsidiary never occurred.
Mississippi Development Authority spokeswoman Melissa Scallan said Mississippi's deal with Edison Chouest Offshore of Cut Off expired Dec. 31. Scallan said the company's Topship subsidiary missed a deadline to invest $68 million and work toward hiring 1,000 workers in Gulfport. The project was announced in February 2016, with construction proposed within 18 months.
Scallan said Topship proposed cutting the investment to $34 million and 250 jobs, but state law requires the higher numbers to get the incentives.
Scallan said Mississippi never paid any of the $36 million it promised.
The Mississippi State Port Authority spent $32 million to buy 116 acres. Port director Jonathan Daniels said Topship paid $16 million of that and is making monthly lease payments of $85,000, plus interest.
Topship is using the land, he said, which includes 350,000 square feet of covered space and rail-mounted cranes.
"The project or projects certainly haven't developed the way we had hoped, but we are willing to work with them so that they can maximize use of the site for job creation and business development," Daniels said. "It's a very flexible facility. It really could provide for very unique production space."
Edison Chouest Offshore planned to build boats to service offshore oil platforms in Gulfport, but offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has been slow in recent years because of low oil prices and increasing production on land spurred by increased adoption of hydraulic fracturing, which allows greater production. Records kept by maritime consultant Tim Colton show Edison Chouest only launched two offshore service vessels last year.