Portland Gets Boost from Oil Rig Project

Monday, January 12, 2004

(Photo Credit: Don Sutherland)

Portland’s marine commercial shipbuilding industry is getting a boost thanks in part to construction of the “Pride Portland” and the “Pride Rio de Janeiro,” two huge oil rigs built by crews working for Cianbro and funded with a $342 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD).

Maritime Administrator Captain William G. Schubert recently visited the “Amethyst Project” at the terminal where the two 12,000 ton oil rigs that symbolize the city’s revitalization efforts were constructed. Captain Schubert called the working waterfront an asset that will provide jobs and keep America moving. “This project alone has employed close to 1,000 people and is exactly what President Bush envisions when he speaks of revitalizing the economy and creating jobs for every American who wants to work. It is clear that the Amethyst Project is a catalyst for the city of Portland, one that enhances and builds upon the state’s already strong maritime tradition.” The rigs are being constructed for Petrodrill, an international company based in the British Virgin Islands, and are intended for oil exploration off the coast of South America. Cianbro, one of the largest construction companies on the East Coast, was awarded the contract to build and assemble the two semi-submersible drill rigs in 2002. The loan to Petrodrill must be paid back over 12 years. The loan guarantee program, known as Title XI, provides a federal guarantee of the private sector debt to aid in the construction of U.S. built vessels and for the modernization of U.S. shipyard facilities. The oil rig project is just one part of Portland’s plan to revitalize its working waterfront. The city intends to redevelop its international marine terminal as a dedicated cargo facility and preserve its roll-on, roll-off infrastructure to handle potential short sea shipping services. Roll-on, roll-off vessels transport various types of vehicles that can roll on and off ships. The Short Sea Shipping concept will help ease ground freight transportation congestion by encouraging the movement of cargo and passengers by water instead of by highway and rail. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said, “Transportation is the economic engine that keeps this nation moving. Portland’s investment in a working waterfront enhances the nation’s maritime infrastructure.” The “Pride Rio de Janeiro” has been completed and will depart Portland this month while the “Pride Portland” is scheduled to be completed this spring.

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