The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Thanks to the manpower provided by Gulf Copper & Manufacturing, 7200 Hwy 87 East, three large freshly finished Catenary Anchor Leg Mooring (CALM) buoys are now fully operational and ready for delivery to Houston-based mooring company SOFEC Inc. at the end of the month.
A team of 75 welders, fabricators, fitters and machinists began preparing the 230-ton buoys — floating hulls with rotating heads to which vessels are able to moor and transfer liquid petroleum products — 10 months ago, when SOFEC awarded the order to the company. The process began with receiving drawings and ended just last week, when the final touches were made to the paint. The buoys get their color from a special black glass-flake paint designed to protect the steel exterior, said project manager Eric Callarman.
Callarman said that for countries without a port, these buoys are vital.
“They can actually stay off shore,” said Callarman, who oversaw his largest fabrication project in 17 years of working at Gulf Copper’s Port Arthur facility. “We were presented the opportunity because of where these buoys go — off the coast of Mexico. Logistically, it made sense.”
The buoys are tethered to the ocean floor with anchors and chains, explained Callarman. When a ship moors to the buoy, jump boats hook up the hoses to a sub-sea pipeline connected to the bottom. The pipeline then transfers the liquids to land.
Callarman estimated that these buoys will last 20 years — much like their predecessors, which were built in the late ‘80s. He said he takes pride in the project, particularly in the 60 full-time positions it created for the community of Port Arthur.
“Historically, these buoys have been built in China and the Far East,” Callarman said. “We were able to bring work back to the United States. This has really helped our Port Arthur operation expand its capabilities.”
Those capabilities are still expanding. Gulf Copper has already received an order from SOFEC for two additional buoys. Work on these began two months ago, said project supervisor Ernesto Alvarez, and is set to end in December.
Gulf Copper has facilities located in Galveston, Corpus Christi, San Diego and Guam.