Chris John: An oil industry wishlist

12 15, 2016 by Daily Advertiser

It’s that time of year. With the Christmas holiday around the corner, it is customary to put together the “wish list” of items one wishes to see underneath the tree. As for the oil and gas industry, there are plenty of things that made 2016 a difficult year. See below for my “wish list” that would make 2017 a success.

Budget Discipline: The business community absorbed more than $2 billion in tax raised during two special sessions this year. Then came the news Louisiana’s budget was still “short” about $600 million. With another fiscal legislative session looming, it is my hope that a serious look is given at the state’s spending practices and priorities. This year’s focus was trying to grab as much revenue as possible, without examining what the revenue was actually funding. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned and the other side of the ledger will be reviewed.

Tort Reform: The continued practice of the much-maligned “sue and settle” tactic employed by trial lawyers hit its apex with the filing of the lawsuits alleging coastal damage to oil and gas companies. As we have seen since the inception of these suits, the pace is slow and the progress is nonexistent. It is an interesting dynamic that is arranged to guarantee one victor: the trial attorneys. Hopefully in 2017, the true motive of the trial attorneys will become more evident and obvious. We will be working hard to highlight that angle. Additionally, I hope the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be allowed to get out of the political games they have been forced into, and go back to regulating the industry in the fully competent and robust way we all know is their strength.

Regulatory Reform: Overregulation has become a hallmark of the Obama Administration. Whether it's the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) overreach, denial of access to the Outer Continental Shelf, or troubling pipeline permit denials, the message has been clear: if they can’t do it legislatively, they meet their goals through executive action. Hopefully, President-elect Donald Trump will recognize what a sensible regulatory scheme looks like and will act accordingly. The U.S. economy is too important (and currently too fragile) to be held hostage to the whim of an outgoing (and lame duck) President.

Without question, number one would be higher oil and natural gas prices that provides some level of certainty. The industry has never experienced lows like it has seen during this stretch. The ability to get back to drilling wells, employing Louisiana folks, and partnering with communities again would be the ultimate gift. Especially after the lump of coals that has been in our stocking lately.