Port of Gulfport energy project could be worth $2 billion - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Port of Gulfport energy project could be worth $2 billion

Harrison County supervisors approved a tax exemption for the project Monday morning. (Photo source: WLOX) Harrison County supervisors approved a tax exemption for the project Monday morning. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

It's been a secretive deal called "Project Aqua." But on Monday, details were made public on a major energy development at the Port of Gulfport. 

It's a deal that could be worth up to $2 billion. A Houston, Texas based company called Sea One plans to build a facility to produce and export "compressed gas liquid." If the development happens, it will be the Port of Gulfport's largest tenant and will quadruple tonnage at the port. 

The president of Sea One told Harrison County supervisors they looked at other locations along the gulf, but couldn't find the right fit.

"Our fit was looking to the future and the expandability. The Port of Gulfport terminal four gives us exactly what we need," said Bruce Hall.

The operation would locate on the west pier, part of the new area created by the port's expansion project. With the raw materials arriving by pipeline, and leaving by barge, there will be significant tonnage without added truck traffic and congestion.

"Would quadruple the tonnage just in phase one. You're looking again at six to eight million tons. We're currently at about two million tons a year, but primarily that has been in containerized cargo. Anytime you add significant bulk operations, the tonnage rolls up very quickly," said Port of Gulfport Executive Director Jonathan Daniels.

Phase one of the development will create 35 jobs, with more to follow. So, why was Gulfport just right?

"The ideal site that we looked for. The acreage was available to us. It's a deep water port. We did not have to make too many changes. We could move straight in there and construct our facilities," said Hall.

"They're looking at about a 40 year agreement with the port authority. Once you make that type of investment, you're going to be here for a long, long time. So, we look forward to being able to have them here," Daniels explained.

The company president appeared before county supervisors and the Gulfport City Council Monday, seeking a 10 year tax exemption. Sea One will pay 50 percent of its property taxes, plus the school taxes.

"And that generates a good amount of revenue for us. So, we appreciate that. I really do. And the schools and the city and county are going to really benefit from this project," said Supervisor Marlin Ladner.

If everything comes together, construction on the energy project could begin late this year, with the first vessels to arrive in early 2019.

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