Executives see growth in Acadiana's oilfield future

11 06, 2012 by Daily Advertiser

The oil and gas industry in Acadiana is on the right track to prosper and be a force in the worldwide market, industry leaders said during an online chat at theadvertiser.com on Monday.

"Acadiana has played a long-standing role in the exploration and production activity in the Gulf of Mexico, dating back to the late 1940s. The region is blessed with talented entrepreneurs who have, time in and time out, developed creative solutions to first-of-its-kind problems," Fugro Chance Inc. CIO Jerry Greig told readers Monday. "Many exploration and production enabling technologies developed in south Louisiana are now deployed globally."

Greig, Oilfield CNC Machining owner Thomas Clements and Eric Kenzek, managing partner of Truston Technologies Inc., participated in the conversation in advance of "The State of the Gulf of Mexico Oil & Gas Industry," an event hosted by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce. Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, will speak at that event on Wednesday.

Reader questions to the three executives ranged from the effects of the election to what skills are needed going forward to the state of the current industry. One reader asked what Acadiana's role in the oil industry will be in the next five to 10 years.

Clements expected Acadiana to go through a boom cycle, and Knezek said natural gas will continue to play a big role.

"I see Acadiana continuing in support of the oil and natural gas industry while expanding our support of the development of the shale gas fields in northern (Louisiana) and throughout the country," Knezek said. "I would like to see Acadiana become the alternative energy hub for our country, but this will take innovation, entrepreneurs, and local leadership attention."

All agreed that a Romney administration would help move the oil and gas industry forward, with Clements going as far as to say that a gallon of gas could cost $2.50 under him. He said a serious move to energy independence could be obtained in eight to 10 years. Knezek and Greig agreed that independence will be tricky and require collaborative efforts between the industry, regulators and the government.

"Independence is an extreme state. I think we certainly can and should move toward independence and become more nimble in responding to hurricanes or political unrest in other parts of the world," Greig said.

Jobs are available in the industry, and skilled employees are needed, they said. Four-year degrees are not required, but employees need to have a strong work ethic, a sense of responsibility and basic skills in math, English and science, they said. Clements said he has already run into problems with finding machinists.

"Obviously, each profession or service industry has specific requirements," Knezek said. "In a general sense, we will continue to need to develop fabrication skills including engineers, CAD designers, machinists, welders, etc. Math and sciences need to be a key staple of our children's educations."