Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New port tenant

The Port of Pensacola might not be changing course, but at least it may be on a new tack. . .

At a recent council meeting, we had a presentation on the future vision of the port which included many long term goals as well as some steps currently leading in new directions. One new business opportunity for the port is a partnership with Offshore Inland. This company is berthing its first vessel in the port now.

Who is Offshore Inland?
It is a company based in Mobile which provides mobilization and demobilization services for the offshore drilling companies. For example, when an oil company needs services on a rig, they contract with Offshore Inland. Offshore Inland then procures the equipment, loads the vessels and take them to the rigs. Offshore Inland then unloads the equipment and makes repairs to equipment on the rigs. This is just one of an array of services which they might perform.

How will they affect the economy in Pensacola? The port derives income from dockage fees and warehouse fees. While Offshore Inland has a boat at the port, they will pay dockage fees. They will also store equipment in the warehouses. These charges will help underwrite the costs of the port, especially because these boats will stay in port for extended stays (30 days in some cases) plus they expect to have 12-20 boats come in the upcoming year.

Economic Impact Multipliers. But the economic impact goes well beyond that. Offshore Inland is replacing the kitchen in the vessel which is currently at the port. So in addition to outfitting the new kitchen, they are employing a caterer to prepare the meals for the crew. Another ship scheduled to arrive in January will require that 50-60 skilled workers relocate here for 30 days to perform technical maintenance. In addition, they are hiring 30 welders/pipefitters from the local area to work on this project. Each project will be unique, requiring skilled workers from welders to computer engineers. As our relationship with Offshore Inland continues, they could tap local resources, like using local machine shops for custom machining. They might also lure their suppliers to relocate here.

Marketing the Port of Pensacola. During the presentation on the future of the port we saw materials used by Offshore Inland used in marketing their new partnership to their customers. It was very interesting to see the Port of Pensacola through the eyes of a maritime customer. It is clear that our Port has many qualities that port users are seeking. These include our proximity to the Gulf and rail and highway connections.

The Port as a Good Neighbor. Offshore Inland is a customer that we want. They are not noisy; they do not clutter our waterfront with unattractive outdoor storage; they will not require many trucks passing through our downtown; they employ skilled labor for long periods. Their presence will help underwrite the costs of the port while providing a needed boost to the local economy.

I am pleased that our port staff have worked to create this agreement with Offshore Inland. I look forward to a long-term, cooperative relationship with this company to demonstrate the value of the port to our local economy.

P.S. The issue of drilling off the coasts of Florida is currently being hotly debated. Offshore Inland is not a new venture spun off of this initiative. They have a long history in the maritime business and service rigs in the western Gulf of Mexico.