The Port of Galveston plans to launch a financial audit of Gulf Copper as it works to determine whether the company, which leases land on Pelican Island, is meeting terms of its lease and contributing enough to the landlord port’s bottom line.

Port Director Rodger Rees confirmed Friday he plans to hire a forensic auditor to review the port’s lease with Gulf Copper, which repairs offshore rigs and marine vessels on 107 acres, representing the most land leased by a port tenant. Gulf Copper has operated on Pelican Island since 2005.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(6) comments

Miceal O'Laochdha

Let's be realistic, neither a former banker nor a former chief financial officer has the slightest chance to understand whether or not the rigs at Gulf Copper are competing with the Port's income from lay-up. This is the fundamental problem with having a Chairman of the Wharves Board and a Director of the Port who have zero knowledge or experience with ships. The director says he looks out the window of his office and doesn't see activity on the rigs across the channel? What a ridiculous statement; it only serves to display his naivete. Three years ago, the former ship repair company at Pier 41, with over 20 years as a reliable tenant of the Port, advanced the same offer to the Board that Gulf Copper did last month: please come visit their facility and learn what is done there. And, just like Gulf Copper now, the offer was ignored by every member of the Board. That company is now out of business and its workers scattered to the wind; the taxes they paid and lease payments and Dockage fees they paid to the Port are gone too. The Board and the current Director have been provided with a detailed explanation of the difference between short-term and long-term lay up of vessels and the reasons why the Port wharves do not have the infrastructure and capability to provide long-term lay-up to vessel owners but, they are apparently unable to grasp it. This Board and their director need to get their feet out on their wharves and tenant's facilities (other than the passenger terminal) and learn something about them. That little boat cruise up and down the channel they had a while back is certainly not going to provide that knowledge.

Bill Broussard

Michael. Great explanation. But to be dirt-s@$& simple, let Mr Rees just take a glance at the picture accompanying the article if he can’t see anything out his window

Miceal O'Laochdha

Good point Bill. That new drydock in one photo, which they built themselves, will certainly bring more work to the Yard too, since the drydock in Texas City is gone. The POG should be celebrating GC's new drydock. There could be a dozen welders hanging steel inside a ballast tank on one of those vessels no one would see it looking out the window! This port needs diversification, including ship repair facilities (which they are instead losing). Look at the Port of Mobile, three large and two small shipyards, conventional and Ro-Ro cargo docks, container ship facilities, bulk liquid terminals, bulk coal and wood chip facilities AND some passengers ships too. That is the way a real seaport puts their eggs in multiple baskets, not just one. One of the shipyards in Mobile is the city's largest employer, even ahead of the Airbus airplane building facility!

Charlotte O'rourke

Disappointing in so many ways .... when did the port stop having discussions with port tenants and each other?

First, if the port board doesn’t know about a forensic audit and they said they didn’t, they should - not only know about it - but should have publicly discussed and voted on the forensic audit plan in public and any policy and other implications BEFORE it is written in the newspaper as something routine (it’s not) and implies a commitment to that action. I haven’t seen this GC topic discussed or on the port’s agenda.

Michel, addressing your first statement. Most people don’t know that the port policy requires the port director to submit proposals to the board. If the company had a request, was it passed on to the board? The port director can not refuse to submit the request to the board or submit a topic for a decision from any board member.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Charlotte, I am not sure if you are asking about my reference to the former ship repair operator at Pier 41 inviting the Board to tour their facility and become familiar with their activities? If that is what you are asking, it was handled as you describe. That invitation was made directly to the Board by the General Manager of that tenant during a presentation to the Wharves Board at a monthly meeting. That presentation was the result of an invitation to the tenant to address the Board from the Port Director at that time, Peter Simons. Mr. Simons and his predecessor Mr. Mirerzwa, were both frequent visitors that tenant's facilities during their tenures. However, to my knowledge, the current port director never visited the facility at Pier 41 from the time he was hired until that tenant gave up their lease and went out of business. I wonder if he is even aware, now that the tenant is gone, that 41 is the only dock the POG has available for lay berthing that has full shorepower capability for dead ship lay up. They inherited that new and extensive electrical infrastructure from their tenant when the lease was abandoned.

Charlotte O'rourke

Miceal, you answered my question. I was concerned that information wasn’t getting through to the board (like the auditor’s governance letter) which was discussed as not being forwarded to the board during a 2018 port meeting on the CAFR. Thanks for replying.

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