By Jennifer Larino
NEW ORLEANS, La. (AP) – As McDermott International, once one of the largest oil and gas companies in New Orleans, is shuttering its last local office and consolidating operations in Houston, many engineering firms are gearing up to add or expand in the Crescent City.
Johan Sperling, vice president of Jensen Maritime, a Seattle-based marine engineering firm, says he was a bit surprised when he read in July about McDermott’s departure, planned for October. McDermott moved its headquarters from New Orleans to Houston before Hurricane Katrina but opened a small engineering office in 2006 as the city recovered from the storm and levee failures.
Jensen opened its New Orleans office last October, relocating one of its top managers from Alaska to get it off the ground. The company recently added three experienced engineers to its New Orleans team to help support growing demand for services. Jensen employs 10 total at its New Orleans office and also operates an office in Jacksonville, Fla.
Sperling said the new office is key in capturing an anticipated wave of supply boat and equipment design, project management and other work tied to the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico. More clients want a firm that will drive out to shipyards to oversee work or review design details, he said, and New Orleans is the best positioned to offer access to Gulf Coast facilities.
“You can do a lot of things remotely, but over the years we saw a growing demand for services where the only way to really capture it correctly would be to open an office” in New Orleans, Sperling said.
Jensen is among dozens of naval architecture and marine engineering firms seeking to grow their local footprint as work in the Gulf heats up.
Tidewater, Hornbeck Offshore Services, Harvey Gulf International Marine and Edison Chouest Offshore, all vessel operators based in the region, each have multi-million dollar campaigns to expand and refurbish their fleets. Companies need larger lift and construction boats to clean up old oil and gas structures and build new ones farther offshore. The widening of the Panama Canal in 2015 is also expected to bring a surge of ship repair work.1 2 next >>