A Norwegian-based company has reached agreement with the City of Pensacola, to lease a warehouse at the Port downtown. Offshore Inland is no stranger to the Gulf Coast, with facilities in Mobile, Galveston and Port Freeport, Texas; Port Fourchon, Louisiana and Dos Bocas, Mexico. The firm plans to spend up to 12 million dollars to build the Pensacola operation.
The Offshore Inland facility is projected to generate $250,000 in annual revenues. About 100 high-wage jobs will be created, handling sub-sea exploration vessels, and making flexible pipe on property adjacent to the port.
That would not only involve the jobs created by Offshore Inland, but the shipping firms that likely would assign personnel to the Port. Part of that can be attributed to what UWF economist Rick Harper calls the port’s built-in competitive advantage.
“It’s a very short distance to the sea buoy here, relative to other ports where ships might go,” said Harper. “And it’s a relatively short sail out to the areas of the Gulf that are going to be explored for mineral extraction.”
Port Director Amy Miller was not available for comment. In an interview upon taking over last November, she said that ports need to evolve to keep up with the inevitable changes in commerce. The Offshore Inland facility will be built out of an existing building. Plans to expand the port appear to be on the back burner for now. But Miller says there’s a possibility that the facility could play host someday to what’s termed as “non-traditional, maritime-related uses.”
Next month, the federal government will open areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for new oil and gas drilling -- the first lease sale in that area in five years. The 465,000 acres cover waters more than three miles off the coast of Alabama, up to a borderline around Pensacola. UWF’s Rick Harper says the Offshore Inland announcement is good timing.
“These deep water investments for the major gas and petroleum-producing companies take years to implement,” says Harper. “And so the work that could come to the Port of Pensacola, good jobs servicing the ships and doing the engineering work that accompanies it, that should be relatively steady.”
Construction will begin on the warehouse at the port with the next year, with completion scheduled by the end of 2016.