Craig Romero of Port Iberia

The Port of Iberia has long been an important part of the south Louisiana economy and industrial landscape. But with work underway to deepen its access channel to the Gulf of Mexico, the port is poised to be an even stronger force in the area. Millions of dollars have been secured to dredge the Acadiana Gulf of Mexico Access Channel, or AGMAC, and the first phase of work is happening now.

“That is going to take the Port of Iberia to another level,” says Craig Romero, executive director of the port. “The water depth will allow for the larger vessels that are needed to service operations in the Gulf. It will allow us to handle shipments going and coming from offshore.”

The port includes an industrial and manufacturing complex occupied by dozens of companies, many tied to the oil and gas industry. With the channel being deepened, companies like Louisiana’s Turner Industries, England’s Seadrill and South Africa’s Global Riser are taking notice and signing leases
at the port.

With oil and gas exploration moving progressively farther into the Gulf of Mexico in recent years, the port—like much of south Louisiana—has had to adapt. “We have been thinking in terms of repurposing the port,” Romero says. “The industry is in deeper and deeper water—a totally different operation. And that’s the kind of thing we’re going after.”

Today, the port employs about 2,500 people. Romero is optimistic there will soon be many new job opportunities at the port as it adjusts to changing needs and attracts new companies.

The Port of Iberia has a long record of making a national and worldwide impact. Two decades ago, the port landed some fabrication jobs for equipment that would be sent to Alaska. It competed with 150 ports for the work and was a finalist alongside the Port of Seattle.

“Stop and think about how close Seattle, Washington is to Alaska. We overcame those logistics,” Romero says. “That really put the Port of Iberia on the map and turned some heads because the delivery was met on time, and the work ethic of the people down here helps a lot.”

Besides having access to the dedicated, skilled labor force in south Louisiana, the port has other advantages, including close proximity to ground, rail, air and water transportation.