Natural gas seen as an economic renaissance for Louisiana

05 16, 2013 by WWL

New drilling techniques have produced a tremendous glut of natural gas in the U.S. And, Louisiana seems perfectly positioned to ride the crest of that boom.

"It's not the next economic boom...we are experiencing it right now," says Chris John, President of Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association. "It's here today."

The domestic natural gas boom has lowered U.S. energy prices, and U.S. producers are ready to ship vast quantities of gas overseas.

John says Louisiana stands to be a big winner as a result.

"The lord blessed Louisiana with the Mississippi River and a bunch of dinosaurs from years ago that created the fossil fuels that we have," says John.

"Plus, the infrastructure is a huge asset for Louisiana...the pipelines and refineries already in place."

And, he says, because of Louisiana's role in providing energy to the country, any kind of advancement in energy production or exploration benefits the state.

"A lot of the technology was born here. A lot of the workforce is here. A lot of the companies have bases in Louisiana."

As a result, Johns says, "when the energy industry is doing well, Louisiana does well."

"Louisiana is just positioned beautifully, to not only take advantage of the renaissance with natural gas onshore, but I think the future is bright in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. So, if you take onshore and offshore and have bright futures for both of those, Louisiana's a big winner in this."

He says Louisiana has already benefited onshore by the number of manufacturing plants that have come back to Louisiana.

For example, Huntsman Corp. will spend $78 million to expand its chemical plant in Geismar.

"All of that is happening because of the abundance and the low price of natural gas. So, I do thank that we are in the midst of an economic reanaissance that's being fueled by natural gas."

U.S. officials are considering competition from countries such as Canada and Australia, where new natural gas export terminals are being proposed. The facilities cost billions of dollars and take years to complete.

Only one U.S. license has been granted for such a facility so far, to Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc. for an export terminal in Louisiana's Cameron Parish.