You don't have Macromedia Flash Player installed.
This content requires the Macromedia Flash Player.
repainted while awaiting a new load of export chickens. Meantime, the Port Authority would like to build the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal Phase II, which will be upriver from the current terminal. It's approximately 36 acres, and combined with existing facility would yield about 80 acres total. Port representatives describe it as currently in the design and planning stages. While this proceeds, a section of the riverfront is undergoing transformation to parkland as somewhat an amenity to the architecturally handsome uptown New Orleans and lower Garden District neighborhoods. The Port's own campus appears nearby as well. The riverfront site is the former location of the Market Street and Orange Street wharfs, described as antiquated and no longer suitable for today's shipping demands. The Port demolished the warehouses in the spring of '06. The Cost of Business Rises Plenty of things besides property have gone up in price in the Southern maritime business. Shane Guidry, President of CEO of Harvey Gulf International Marine sees high insurance rates as a cause for an exodus of jack-up rigs to distant climes. "The insurance increases for offshore are a hundred-percent," said Mr. Guidry. On top of which, the drillers "can get three-year contracts in Trinidad, and oneyear contracts here." He estimates the number of such rigs on the patch at something around 80 working on natural gas today, compared to over 100 last year. While it's possible the rigs would return, Mr. Guidry wonders, "if you leave and give up part of your market, what's going to make you come back?" Nevertheless, yards equipped to handle the big rigs, which includes Signal in both Houston and Pascagoula, find themselves as busy as anyone. Whether a thousand-year storm or whatever, it was a storm that happened and raised the bar on a few things. There is a new call for 16-point mooring on the semi-submersibles, which Signal was installing on the Noble Clyde Boudreaux at the time of our visit. From the standpoint of business, Signal's management expressed a positive future. Rigs that are coming and going need yards, too. It's said here and there that at $70 per barrel, oil is worth looking for, for those equipped to do it. But the cost of doing it has been driven up by a variety of factors on the Gulf coast -- demand for shipyard space, massive increases in insurance rates, competition for skilled workers, the cost of housing, the need to go out-ofregion for newbuilds if the local yards continue short of personnel. Along with storm-related issues are other factors yet to be determined, such as the cost of improvements as increasing vessels come under inspection. Newbuilds are investments, profit-making in the long run, but still they require massive capital for construction. A refrain among all we spoke to is that costs are passed along to customers, and the buck stops at the pump -- nobody seems to think the oil companies are taking a hit. Nor does anyone seem to have a fix on how much these increases in operating expense affect the price of energy, compared, say, to more widely recognized practices of OPEC et al. But the cost of fuel increases are a cost that keeps on costing -- if a gallon is 20% higher this year than last, it raises the price of further discovery, extraction, support, distribution that much more. Possibly these are issues that will gain more governmental scrutiny, but so far, most concede, it's come too fast, has had a war to compete with, has fallen into the cracks. Time will tell how it all impacts the national economy, consumer spending patterns, or related issues of national security. All we can say for certain is that the wrecks we saw in rows at Empire are not the only legacy still to settle from "the storm." 28 · MarineNews · November 2006