In 2004, Port Fourchon tenants handled about 20 million tons of cargo, over 95% of which was related to oil and gas production. About a third of all tonnage comes to and from Port Fourchon by inland barge before it is transferred to/from an offshore vessel. The remaining cargo comes and goes by vehicle or helicopter.
Most of the commodities handled at Port Fourchon are liquid bulk like oilfield fluids, cement, fuel, and heavy waters. Cargoes commonly transported to/from Port Fourchon by vehicle include machinery, people, dry bulk, pipe, food, specialty tools, and garbage. Over a thousand trucks travel in and out of Port Fourchon every day.
The main barge route to Port Fourchon is through Bayou Lafourche, and barge traffic has increased at about the same rate as truck traffic. Port Fourchon is undergoing rapid growth today as a result of increased oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Of over 160 current and planned deepwater projects, over half use Port Fourchon as their service base, including repairing and refurbishing oil rigs. Projections suggest that, in the future, Port Fourchon will support 60% of all Gulf drilling rig activity for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Clearly, Port Fourchon is the major base for deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production.
Today, Port Fourchon occupies 600 developed acres containing state-of-the-art facilities. Over 250 companies use the Port as a base of operations. Port Fourchon contains the E-Slip that provides over 18 thousand feet of developed waterfront to support mineral exploration and production. Bell Pass is a 1200-foot wide jetty system with 27 feet depth. The channel in the center of the pass is 300 feet wide.
The Port Commission is responding to the need for larger and deeper draft vessels by enlarging, widening, and deepening its channels. To this end, the Commission acquired four thousand acres north of the E-Slip for expansion. Currently in Phase I of the Northern Expansion, they are developing a 700-acre area with 180 acres of non-waterfront property and 520 acres with 21 thousand feet of water frontage.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) is the country’s only super port serving as a central unloading and distribution hub for incoming supertankers. Located 19 miles southeast, it uses Port Fourchon as its land base.
About 270 large vessels use the port’s channels every day, and about 15 thousand people a month work at offshore locations that Port Fourchon supports. Over 1200 trucks travel in and out of Port Fourchon each day, and 675 million barrels of crude oil travel through the port by pipeline each year.