Modules fabricated in New Iberia for Shell Oil’s largest project to date sailed off from the Port of New Iberia this past week.
Over the past two years, said port executive director Craig Romero, Dynamic Industries has employed between 200 and 400 people on the project. They have been building modules that will be affixed to larger hulls being built in South Korea, and will then be stationed 80 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico, at Shell Oil’s Appomatox project. Shell says the 2,255-metres-deep wells should have first oil by the end of the decade.
“It’s done right here, and it supplies jobs not just for New Iberia but for all of Acadiana. That includes welders, vendors and suppliers, et cetera. It all comes from here,” Romero said this weekend, on the deck of a small boat floating in a port canal as the massive structures were being weighed and moved onto a barge behind him. On the platform beside one of the modules, a red moving truck bearing the name Berard in big, white letters sat idle.
“You see that truck — that’s Berard, from Loreauville,” Romero said. “That’s just another example of a local company getting work out here because of this project.”
The last hull had weighed in at just under 600 tons, obviously more load than the average moving truck could handle. Instead, the module was moved onto two massive, wheeled Berard platforms, aligned parallel to one another. A man in a hard hat and reflective vest followed behind the slow-moving module, with what looked like a tabletop gaming console slung over his torso and laid out in front of him.
“See that guy following behind with the playstation-like thing — he’s controlling the movement with that, using that drone,” Romero said, pointing into the sky. Up above, a drone was circling the module, charting a course toward the barge.
The Appomatox project cost about $17 million in total. Once on the barge, the modules began there journey to Ingleside, Texas, where they’ll be attached to their counterparts from South Korea. Within a year, said Romero, they’ll be towed to the production facility in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We’re fortunate to have such a good fabrication facility here,” he said. “This is the premiere fabrication site on the Gulf of Mexico. And we’re lucky the state realizes the value of putting money into our ports — the state has helped us a lot too.”
Romero said he had just happened to be bringing some fresh boudin to some port tenants Friday morning when he realized the hulls shipping out.
“I brought some boudin to their office, and that’s how I found out they were loading today,” he said. He alerted the press immediately. Several outlets came to film and to report from Lafayette and New Iberia. He called State Rep. Blake Miguez as well, who came to watch.
“It is great to have these projects in our community,” Miguez said. “My constituents just want to go to work, and this means jobs. This is something to be proud of. And the guys at the port, I really have to commend them,” he said. “Tough times never last, but tough people do. And the people in Louisiana are tough.”