Massive shipyard to break ground this week in Houma

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, March 26, 2008

HOUMA, La. (AP) — A new subsidiary of shipbuilding giant Edison Chouest Offshore that’s expected to bring 1,000 jobs to the area and pump millions into the local economy will hold its groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.

The LaShip shipyard is expected to be Chouest’s largest fabrication and shipbuilding facility worldwide, producing ships larger than 350 feet. It should be fully operational in 2009.

Chouest has other shipyards in Larose, Houma and Brazil.

Email newsletter signup

The Port of Terrebonne and Edison Chouest Offshore owner Gary Chouest announced the LaShip deal in August 2006. Chouest has said it plans to invest $90 million in the parish and another $14 million for port-infrastructure improvements.

LaShip is expected to generate a third of the jobs that once-coveted ThyssenKrupp AG steel mill would have brought to the area. The $2.9 billion steel mill ultimately chose a site in Alabama instead of possible locations in Louisiana.

The LaShip deal also comes at a significantly reduced cost to the state — $14 million compared to $400 million for the mill.

The company’s goal is to hire 700 to 750 people over the first year, with plans to increase that number to 1,000 by the second year, said Lonnie Thibodeaux, a spokesman for Edison Chouest.

Infrastructure improvements on tap include dredging and deepening a canal and the construction of a new bulkhead. Chouest currently leases about 50 acres from the Port of Terrebonne and intends to use about half of that for its new shipyard.

Gov. Bobby Jindal wants the Legislature to spend $10 million on the improvements and plans to use $4 million from the administration’s rapid-response fund to develop the port.