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11 07, 2013 by
Chevron on Wednesday announced a $29 million commitment to relocate its Gulf of Mexico airbase facility to the South Lafourche Leonard Miller Jr. Airport.
The new facility will replace the company's offshore facility in Leesville which has been in use since the 1960s.
Slated to open in 2014, the Greater Gulf of Mexico Airbase will provide capacity to transport up to 6,000 workers monthly to and from offshore oil platforms and drilling rigs. It also will be adaptable and expandable.
Parish and state leaders were on hand to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the airbase Wednesday afternoon. Parish President Charlotte Randolph and local state Sen. Norby Chabert, R-Houma, joined Chevron executives to shovel piles of dirt across palm trees.
“I just want to echo from a state standpoint, how much it means to have a commitment like this,” Chabert said. “It makes me so proud that it's happening right here.”
The move puts Chevron's aviation operations within hurricane and flood protection infrastructure. Galliano has historically been the de facto alternative when severe weather forces the company to evacuate its offshore operations.
Warner Williams, vice president of exploration and production at Chevron North America, touted the economic impact the airbase will have, saying that even before doors to the facility open, the project will generate an economic impact of $15 million.
“We're committed at Chevron to fueling not only social but also economic vitality of the communities we are in,” Williams said. “This is not just a facility but the cornerstone of our operations here in the Gulf.”
Also on display at the opening ceremony were two of three new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters the company has purchased to operate out of its new airbase. Executives, politicians and media on hand had the opportunity to tour two of the 19-seat choppers, each of which cost $34 million.
The airbase and helicopters are part of the company's $30 billion budget for 2014, $3 billion of which Williams expects to be spent in Louisiana.
Randolph saluted the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, which oversees the air strip in Galliano and facilitated the deal.
“I salute them for creating an environment in which companies like Chevron feel comfortable making commitments,” Randolph said. “We can't skip permits, sorry, but we can sit down and talk to make things go as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
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