Oil and Gas industry continues to strongly support Louisiana, study shows

07 11, 2014 by The Times-Picayune

The latest economic impact study of the oil and gas industry shows its continuing to strongly support the Louisiana economy.

A study by LSU Economist Loren Scott shows Louisiana's 287,000 energy sector jobs generated $20.5 billion in household earnings and supported nearly $74 billion in sales to local firms in 2011.

"The Energy Sector: A Giant Economic Engine for the Louisiana Economy," shows that professionals working in the oil and gas industry in the Pelican State earn nearly two times the average Louisiana worker.

Scott's report was commissioned by the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and pro-oil-and-gas industry alliance Grow Louisiana Coalition, which was formed to promote what it says are the positive impacts of the energy industry on the state and its citizens.

The coalition hosted a series of talks across the state to push its message during the first half of the year. It will continue its efforts to combat energy industry critics' arguments about the environmental impact of the industry on the ecosystem, its impact on the communities it resides in, and how it contributes to the vanishing coastline among other issues.

Through analyzing crude oil, natural gas and petroleum refining industries, Scott found that in 2011 alone, those industries yielded more than 11.6 percent of the total state earnings, putting Louisiana ahead of the gross domestic products of 86 of 185 countries ranked by the World Bank in 2012.

As state taxes paid by Louisiana oil and gas industry companies have significantly increased in recent years, the industry paid nearly $1.5 billion in state taxes and fees during fiscal year 2013, representing about 14.6 percent of total state taxes, licenses and fees collected, the report says.

Four of the states will enjoy tax breaks over the five years ending in 2017 because of expiring tax exemptions on refineries. Scott's report shows that 10-year tax breaks on about $419.5 million worth of refinery property in the area is set to expire from 2013 to 2017 in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Scott used all these examples to say the energy industry is "...the engine that makes the difference. For Louisiana, the presence of the extraction, refining and pipeline industries have indeed made all the difference. The energy industry, and its accompanying multiplier effects, has been a powerful engine for economic growth in Louisiana."

The study found that energy producers, refiners and pipeline companies in Louisiana also paid $410 million in property taxes to local governments in 20113, a 37.5 increase over 2009's figure. This comes from a state producing about 1.4 million barrels of oil daily, the second-highest total in the U.S., including production from federal waterways in the Gulf of Mexico, though almost all of that production comes in Louisiana.

Ranked second in oil refining capacity, Louisiana's 19 refineries produce a total daily capacity of 3.3 million barrels. Three of the country's five largest refineries are based in Louisiana: Garyville-based Marathon, second; Baton Rouge-based ExxonMobil, third; and Citgo in Lake Charles, No. 5.

"If you want to know what Louisiana would look like without the energy sector, all you have to do is look one state over to the east," Scott said referencing Mississippi. Though Mississippi has similar demographics as Louisiana, its energy industry is small. Scott mentioned its per capita income ranks 50th in the U.S, but Louisiana's ranks 32nd.

"This study proves the oil and gas industry's continued dedication to the people of Louisiana," said Marc Ehrhardt, Grow Louisiana Coalition executive director. "Through these substantial contributions, industry companies are helping secure a strong, flourishing economy for all future generations of Louisianans."