Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Louisiana's Port Fourchon may not receive utility power for four to six weeks and the port's channel may not be passable for a week due to Hurricane Gustav, said Ted Falgout, director of the port, in an interview.
Several four- to six-ton stones from the port's east jetty and sediment from the storm may have blocked the shipping channel, Falgout said today in his office. If ships can't get through, it will take at least a week to open the channel for vessels with reduced loads, he estimated.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is assessing if the channel is passable and will release a report later today, according to the director. Port Fourchon is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of New Orleans.
Port Fourchon may be ready to service up to half of U.S. offshore rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico within a week by using backup generators, Falgout said earlier this week.
The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the biggest U.S. oil- import terminal, said without electricity from the grid, it can run its operations at reduced rates at Port Fourchon. The LOOP's booster station at Port Fourchon remains without power.
``We can operate without that booster station,'' Barb Hestermann, a spokeswoman for the LOOP, said in a telephone interview today. ``We can offload tankers.''
A few miles outside Port Fourchon homes and businesses sat in several feet of water and a boat lay on its side on the road. Electrical lines and power poles had been blown to the ground.
At Express Supply and Steel, a hardware store that supplies offshore companies working in the Gulf, brackets and steel pipes were strewn on the floor and the building's ceiling had been blown off.
``It's the risk you take for doing business down here,'' Jacob Pitre, the owner, said as he picked through salvageable merchandise. ``Business doubled after Katrina. In a couple days I'll have a temporary building and I'll start selling again.''
In Port Fourchon several buildings had their roofs pulled off by the wind. On the horizon at least three oil rigs could be seen, idling in shallow water where they were towed in anticipation of the storm.
Port Fourchon is used by more than 60 companies to service U.S. offshore rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in New Orleans at firstname.lastname@example.org; Aaron Clark in New York at email@example.com