Photo: Michael Spooneybarger/Studer Community Institute
Northwest Florida Roundup
Slippery slope: The slide in oil prices puts a Port of Pensacola project on hold
With a $50-million price tag, the proposed DeepFlex manufacturing facility was heralded as the largest, and perhaps most important, capital project in the Port of Pensacola’s history. The state-of-the-art plant was to manufacture subsea, flexible pipe for the offshore petroleum industry, creating several hundred highpaying jobs in the process.
But in March, the Texasbased company halted work on the 70,000-sq.-ft. structure. And since then the building, about 90% complete but devoid of any machinery, has become another victim of the steep decline in oil prices that began in mid-2014.
When DeepFlex signed the contract to build the plant, crude oil prices were above $100 a barrel.
“What happened with DeepFlex was kind of a perfect storm in the realm of project financing,” says Amy Miller, the port’s director. “DeepFlex was financing the project in phases. They were coming up on the end of one of their funding phases when the price of oil tanked at below $40 a barrel.”
Miller says DeepFlex is still paying its $15,500 monthly rent for the fouracre site. Some vendors and subcontractors are not as fortunate, however, holding unpaid invoices from early 2015.
Meanwhile, Miller says she expects DeepFlex to resume construction this year. But she admits that prospect is unlikely if crude oil prices remain depressed.
“I think there probably is a good chance of further delays,” Miller says. “The price of oil certainly is not rebounding as quickly as the industry thought it would.”
Innovation -- Knowing the Problem
Jeff Phillips, the 39-year-old co-founder and CEO of the Pensacola-based search firm Accountingfly, recently was named to Accounting Today magazine’s list of top 100 most influential people in the industry for the second year in a row.
Founded in 2012, Accountingfly specializes in matching recent college graduates and experienced accountants with national accounting firms through the use of specialized software the firm has developed.
St. Joe Co. Named Jorge Gonzalez president and CEO following the retirement of Jeffrey Keil. Gonzalez had been senior vice president of development.
- BAY COUNTY — St. Joe Co. Has agreed to pay a $2.75-million penalty to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges that the company overvalued its land holdings during the financial crisis in 2009 and 2010. In paying the penalty, St. Joe neither admitted nor denied the allegations.
- PENSACOLA — Jupiter Composites will add 100 jobs to the 150 already at its wind turbine component facility at Ellyson Industrial Park. An expansion will add 25,000 square feet to the 50,000-sq.-ft. plant.
- PERRY — Duke Energy Florida plans to construct a 20-acre, five-megawatt solar facility in Perry.
- SANTA ROSA COUNTY — Gulf Cable plans to build a warehouse and expand its workforce by 110 over the next two years. The company manufactures cables for wind turbines and wind farms.
- TALLAHASSEE — Tesla has installed a supercharging station in Tallahassee near I-10, part of a network of free car charging stations Tesla is installing along I-10 from Jacksonville to Los Angeles.