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Port Future Is In Offshore Oil And Gas Exploration

The Port of Pensacola’s future is in servicing the offshore oil and gas exploration support industry, said Port Director Amy Miller.

While continuing to service non-lease tenants like General Electric Wind Energy, which ships 1,000 units per year from the downtown Pensacola port, the focus in the coming years will be to continue to target offshore energy and possibly renewable energy, Miller said.

“The long range growth plan — in terms of job creation and economic impact — is closely tied to offshore oil and gas,” she said. “That is a niche industry sector we can develop where we can set ourselves apart from our neighboring ports who perhaps are in that industry but not to the extent we are talking about.”

Miller’s comments were made Monday afternoon at Gulf Power’s Economic Symposium in Sandestin during a panel discussion about the economic impact of Florida’s 15 ports.

Low oil prices have delayed a plan by DeepFlex, a company which produces underwater oil and gas pipe, to move forward with a port project that could create 200 jobs.

“We think the prices will rebound and believe there will continue to be opportunity for the port of Pensacola in that industry,” Miller said.

The 10 acres of undeveloped property on the port’s east side and Pensacola’s proximity to offshore energy leases in the Gulf of Mexico have positioned it to attract more companies like Offshore Inland Marine & Oilfield Services, one of its three anchor tenants, Miller said.

“We are not talking about crude oil tankers coming into downtown Pensacola,” she said. “We are talking about the support services. Pipe laying. Supply ships.”

Port facilities could also be used to support hydroelectric or offshore wind power should they ever take off in the region, Miller said.

In addition to Offshore Inland, the other anchor tenants are Cemex, which ships bulk dry cement, and Martin Marietta Aggregates, which ships construction materials. Other, non-lease tenants include International Paper.

The panel was moderated by Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The other participants were Wayne Stubbs, executive director of the Panama City Port Authority, and Chris Holley, who represented the Port St. Joe Port Authority and is the executive director of the Gulf County Economic Development Coalition.

PNJ
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