* Company eyes orders from $10 mln to over $100 mln
* Avondale did commercial work two decades ago
* Will reevaluate plan to close Avondale later this year
WASHINGTON, Feb 5 Huntington Ingalls Industries
Inc said it is actively pursuing infrastructure orders
from the oil and natural gas industry for its Avondale,
Louisiana, shipyard, which had been slated to close at the end
The shipbuilder for the U.S. Navy said on Tuesday it is
opening an office in Houston to go after orders, and is already
in active discussions with various companies in the oil and gas
sector. It plans advertisements in Gulf Coast newspapers on
Chris Kastner, corporate vice president and general manager
of corporate development, told Reuters that Huntington Ingalls
would reevaluate plans to close the Avondale facility, or lay
off more workers, depending on how the new business did this
He declined to give a revenue target, saying the company was
more focused on validating the business model for the new work.
Northrop Grumman Corp announced plans to close the
268-acre shipyard outside New Orleans in 2010, later deciding to
spin off its entire shipbuilding business into Huntington
Mike Petters, chief executive of Huntington Ingalls, said
the workforce at Avondale, which numbers around 2,000 now, had
unique engineering and manufacturing capabilities that would
help the company compete in the energy sector.
Petters had discussed with reporters in January the
possibility of changing the focus of the shipyard.
The facility was also ideally located in a region where
manufacturing demand is outstripping supply, especially in the
energy markets, he said.
"Coupling this talent with our world-class facilities leads
us to believe we have everything in place at Avondale to excel
in this market," Petters said in a statement announcing the
company's thrust into energy infrastructure work.
Kastner told Reuters the company would bid for projects
ranging in size from $10 million to the $100-million range.
He said the company was open to a possible partnership for
the Avondale facility, but did not view that as necessary to
start bidding for smaller orders.
The Avondale shipyard has worked on other commercial
projects in the past. About two decades ago, it built equipment
for a hydroelectric plant, which is still operating, and a
prison barge in use in New York, Kastner said.
"Avondale has a rich history in competing for a very diverse
amount of work," he said.
Huntington Ingalls shares were trading nearly unchanged at
$44.21 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.