oil industry

Twice a year the federal government auctions off land in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration. It’s usually a pretty quiet affair. But on Wednesday hundreds of protesters marched into the Superdome to try to disrupt the sale.

A Taylor Energy well southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River has been leaking for over a decade.
Taylor Energy

The company responsible for an ongoing spill in the Gulf of Mexico is holding a public forum on Wednesday. Taylor Energy was mandated to share information about the spill and its cleanup efforts with the public.

fema.gov

The Environmental Protection Agency released new standards on Tuesday for emissions from petroleum refineries.

The EPA says the standards will cut down on CO2 emissions and prevent about 1.4 million people from being exposed to pollutants in the air, like benzene. Regularly breathing such pollutants can cause respiratory problems, increased risk of cancer and other health problems.

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

A federal agency that oversees offshore leasing wants input on the environmental impacts of drilling in the Gulf. The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management, or BOEM, is one of two government agencies that regulate the offshore industry. It held a meeting in New Orleans Thursday as part of its role of leasing drilling rights throughout the Gulf.

Deep horizontal drilling for oil and gas is enormously expensive. The fracking process to release oil and gas from the shale reached by those deep wells is enormously controversial. But when one of those wells comes in, it’s enormously profitable.

“I know for a fact that companies absolutely want to drill those wells because we have that incentive,” Louisiana Oil and Gas Association president Don Briggs says of Louisiana’s severance tax exemption for deep horizontal wells. Passed by the legislature in 1994, it seemed like a good idea at the time, as it was encouraging new technology.


Oil and gas jobs in Louisiana have dropped to the lowest level in almost 10 years, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Eric Smith, Associate Director of the Tulane Energy Institute, says these jobs are some of the best in the state.

"It's a disproportionate effect," says Smith. "When you lose a job offshore, it's like losing two or three jobs onshore in manufacturing."

Thousands of oil and gas industry operators are filing through the Shreveport Convention Center for a trade show that is focused on serving the oil patch.

The Ark-La-Tex Oilfield Expo has 364 exhibitors packed into a 95,000 square-foot exhibit hall. The expo relocated from Longview this year due to growing demand.

The expo is put on by Longview-based Texas Classic Productions. Creative director Amy Double says the environment is ripe for business deals, especially at a time when operators are cutting costs.

Should Louisiana repeal its 20-year-old severance tax exemption for horizontal wells? LSU economist Jim Richardson believes the time for that particular economic incentive has passed.

“In 1994, nobody knew how to do horizontal drilling. Today, everybody knows how to do horizontal drilling,” Richardson says of the tax break implemented to encourage what was then a new technology.

Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association president Chris John says the severance tax exemption for fracking wells keeps Louisiana in the shale production game.

Jacinta Quesada/FEMA / Wikimedia Commons

This weekend, Louisiana workers joined the largest national oil refinery strike in over 30 years. 1,350 employees from the Motiva refineries in Convent and Norco, Louisiana, joined fellow members of the United Steelworkers union in asking the industry to change the current safety requirements. 

“Prices at the pump don’t seem to have a bottom yet.” Legislative Fiscal Analyst Greg Albrecht says while that’s good for consumers, it’s very bad for the state budget.

Louisiana’s budget gap for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2015 has widened by $400-million due to declining oil royalties and severance taxes — directly attributable to the fall in oil prices.


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