Industrial group told oil business has bright future

01 16, 2013 by Houma Courier

Oil and gas is going to be the future. That is the message Chris John, president of LA Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, told members of Bayou Industrial Group Monday at their monthly meeting.

The economic impact the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana have on the oil and gas industry is huge, John said.

“Take a look at the Gulf of Mexico region. If it were a country, it would be the eighth-largest producer in the world,” he said. “Louisiana is the No. 1 refining area in the world.”

The energy reality is that the United States uses 20 million barrels of oil a day. Six million barrels of that is produced in Louisiana.

“Of the 6 million barrels, 30 percent of that is produced in the Gulf,” John said. “We have to depend on that area. It is a region very matured, and the infrastructure is there.”

Oil is a $70 billion business for Louisiana which supplies 3,020 of the workers in the industry, he said.

The Gulf also has about a half-million miles of pipeline running through it and Louisiana has 125 miles, John said.

The Gulf region also has a one-of-a-kind port system, including Lafourche’s Port Fourchon.

“When you look at the whole region, it is the strongest port system in the world. To put that in global context, no other region in the world has this oil standpoint,” John said.

He told the group he’s concerned about President Obama’s “schizophrenic” stance on the oil and gas industry. “One minute they are for it, and the next minute they are against it. The political standpoint creates uncertainty,” he said.

Hugh Caffery, president of Valentine Chemicals in Lockport and one of those in attendance, said he’s concerned that the “government doesn’t recognize our energy independence.”

South Louisiana’s production can “reduce energy costs throughout the economy. Energy will go down. When energy goes down, our country will flourish,” Caffery said.

The oil industry “affects the cost of many things like the cost of gas trucks used to bring supplies and even something as small as the price of a pen,” Caffery said.

The political reality of it is that the non-producing states have the most votes and Washington does not know what is at stake, John said.

“The energy fight in Washington, D.C., is not a partisan issue,” John said. “There are Democrats and Republicans that support it. It is more of a geological problem.

“We in south Louisiana grew up in this environment. We understand that it is important for jobs, families and the state,” he said. “ Others from out of state didn’t grow up in this same environment, so they don’t see it as important as we do,” John said.

The United States could become energy independent in as little as 15 years if the administration took the appropriate stance, John said.

But despite that set back, John said the industry has a bright future.

“Since 2007, there has been $8 billion dollars invested in the Gulf of Mexico. That was just from leasing property,” he said. “Last Wednesday at Fletcher Technical Community College, BP gave $4 million, and the state matched $4 million for a tech supply building.”

John said he, along with those at LA Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, are in the beginning stages of planning a world center for the oil industry here.

“It will create a lot of economic development for Terrebonne and Lafourche, and those all around the world who want to get trained will have to come right here to Schreiver. It’s been a dream of ours and a dream of the industry. This area is going to lead that way because of the Gulf, technology and workforce trained in the area,” John said.