Port Fourchon, Louisiana
Port Fourchon is the southernmost port in Louisiana and services more than ninety percent of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. It is administered by the Greater Lafourche Port Commission, which also has jurisdiction over the nearby South Lafourche Leonard Miller, Jr. Airport.
The port can be accessed via Louisiana Highway 1and is connected via Bayou Lafourche to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), located 37 miles to the north. In 2013, Port Fourche handled over 6.6 million short tons of cargo in domestic trade.
Port Fourchon is the land base for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), which is the only deepwater port in the United States that is capable of offloading cargo from crude oil carriers over 250,000 tons. Fourchon handles over 90% of production from the Gulf of Mexico oilfields.
It is of huge significance to the U.S., handling up to 15% of both domestic and foreign oil for the nation. Hydrocarbon cargo offloaded at the port is used for fifty percent of the country’s refining capacity. In total, Fourchon supplies the U.S. with approximately 18% of its oil. Pipelines transport more than 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day.
Apart from its primary cargo of oil, this port is the base for many commercial fishing vessels. Its strategic location makes Port Fourchon a staging point for the movement of personnel, equipment, and supplies to support the many oil and gas exploration and production activities in the Gulf of Mexico. Fourchon has heavy lift capabilities to handle loading and offloading of drilling supplies, as well as equipment for oil and gas exploration and production.
Port Fourchon is an extremely busy port, with over 400 vessels moving through the port’s waters daily. Road traffic sees up to 1,200 trucks moving in and out each day. Goods are brought in by trucks, barges, and ships. They are transported to offshore facilities by supply vessels or by helicopter.
The proximity of the South Lafourche Airport has attracted companies supplying aviation-based support to the oil and gas industry in the Gulf. With a runway of 6,500 feet, the airport can accommodate large jet aircraft.
Over two hundred and fifty companies are based in Fourchon. With the substantial amount of traffic and large volumes of cargo handled, employers must ensure the safety of the workers at all times to prevent injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is tasked with the enforcement of statutory provisions for employee safety in the port. Regulations apply to both land-based workers as well as vessel crew.
Many injuries occur as a result of workers slipping and falling. Under Title 29 of the United States Code, employers are required to provide adequate lighting in work areas, like workshops and machine shops, to reduce the risk of injury. The provisions extend to lighting over dockside stairs and walkways. Adequate illumination must also be supplied for gangways, stairs and work areas below deck on vessels.
Port facilities are required to provide emergency medical facilities to treat injured workers. Under the law, a port authority may use an off-site emergency service instead of on-site facilities only if it is able to reach the port within five minutes.