Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association
The Christmas season has come and gone, and now we are headed into the final stretch of the holiday season. The New Year has become synonyms with the sounds of champagne bottles popping, fireworks, the ball drop in Time Square, and New Year’s resolutions. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, over 50 percent of Americans make some kind of resolution for the new year. I believe that it is vital to set goals or resolutions for the upcoming year, especially when it comes to the health of Louisiana’s oil and gas industry.
The first of many resolutions for Louisiana’s oil and gas sector is to continue the progress of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The project, which is set to begin construction very shortly, will stretch from Nederland, TX to a terminal in Lakes Charles and then a finally end at the St. James terminal hub. This $750 million pipeline project will create approximately 2,500 construction jobs. Along with a boost in jobs, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline provides the safest and most efficient way to transport crude across Louisiana. It is projects like these that are needed to boost economic development and create jobs in Louisiana.
The “Texodus,” as a coined by a Baton Rouge political writer, refers to the mass migration out of Louisiana. Stopping the trend of outward migration is resolution number 2. The United States Department of Commerce found that between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, that 27,515 people moved from Louisiana to other states. Now while not all 27,515 people that left our state went solely to Texas, you can attribute a solid portion of our oil and gas workforce went in that direction. The oil and gas industry is booming in the Permian Basin and unfortunately, taking many of our families across the Louisiana-Texas border. Many oil and gas service companies in the Acadiana area are incredibly busy… incredibly busy sending their workforce into our neighboring states. These service companies have become very technologically advanced, and that has allowed them to become extremely mobile. However, they would much rather be involved in projects in south Louisiana, but they just aren't there.
So how do we stop the mass “Texodus?" That is resolution 3: we must clean up the polluted legal environment that Louisianians and business leaders are forced to deal with. If I have heard it once, I have heard it a million times that the leading reason oil and gas companies are not willing to invest in Louisiana is due to the legacy and coastal lawsuits. What wise investor would want to come into our state and spend billions of dollars only to be thanked by a lawsuit from a group of slip-n-sue trial lawyers? This issue is not dictated by geopolitical matters or by global supply and demand. It has been instigated and encouraged by the Governor of our great state. We are effectively shooting ourselves in the foot and attempting to compete in a marathon against other oil and gas states. This race won’t end well; we must change the way our state leaders conduct the business of our state.
We must celebrate Louisiana’s oil and gas industry for all of their many contributions to Louisiana. Our vast pipeline infrastructure has enabled the Haynesville shale to wake from its slumber and has also boosted Louisiana’s LNG export ability. These resolutions are not solely about the health and success of the oil and gas industry; it's about the prosperity of families that work and do business in our beloved state.