NEW ORLEANS — McDermott International will close its last remaining New Orleans office in October.
The energy services and engineering firm, following the paths of other local oil and gas companies, moved its corporate headquarters from New Orleans to Houston in 2005.
The company would not say how many employees are left in its engineering office. Some will be offered jobs elsewhere in the company, while others will be laid off.
Eric Smith, associate director of Tulane University’s Energy Institute who worked for McDermott from 1984 to 1994, said the company moved its corporate executives before Hurricane Katrina to be near the major oil and gas companies in Houston.
In 2006, as New Orleans recovered from Katrina, McDermott opened a small engineering office with 27 employees, including 22 engineers.
Smith said engineering and drilling firms are under economic pressure to maintain headquarters in Houston, although many companies maintain operations offices in New Orleans. Contractors often open and close satellite offices based on their projects.
Michael Hecht, president and chief executive of the economic alliance Greater New Orleans Inc., agreed. “This is a somewhat surprising move given the recent surge in oil and gas activity that we’re seeing today in the region.”
About $20 billion in capital expenditures is expected over the next 18 months in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and land-based shale exploration, Hecht said.
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