Port Fourchon: A high-priority energy corridor ///

From what we have seen over the past year and all the signs pointing forward, it is abundantly clear that the Gulf of Mexico is returning full throttle to the business of exploring for, and producing, oil and gas. The activity over the past year, particularly in deep and ultra-deep water, has increased to levels that we reasonably could not have foreseen a couple of years ago. Drilling activity is increasing steadily, with more deepwater rigs scheduled to join the fleet this year. Shipyards are on overdrive to keep up with the growing demand for the new-generation, 300-plus-ft vessels required to support these deepwater operations. The number of new deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects scheduled this year and beyond, as well as the most recent $1.2-billion Central Gulf lease sale on March 20, certainly bode well for the long-term vitality of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

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