Southern Louisiana jobs on hold until more leases issued in the Gulf of Mexico

Houston Chronicle columnist Loren Steffy’s blog post about the dismal state of economic affairs in Louisiana highlights the dire situation this area is facing now and for months into the foreseeable future.

The moratorium on drilling has caused local businesses to continue to cut back on employees, as business lags.  Even though the moratorium was lifted last fall, only a handful of permits have been granted and companies continue to wait. The current unemployment rate in Southern Louisiana of 5.8% is up from 4.9% in the last year, indicating that the economy is in fact getting worse, not better.

The current “hurry up and wait” scenario smacks of the Marcellus Shale moratorium, where upstate New Yorkers stand to see as much as $11.4 billion in economic investment by 2020, in addition to 15-18,000 new jobs if and when the current moratorium preventing drilling is lifted.

Before the Macondo blowout last year, 58,375 wells were safely drilled over the last 60 years in the Gulf of Mexico.  Of those, over 3,100 of them were in deep water. It seems illogical at best to declare such stringent boycotts on this dearly needed infrastructure; deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 30% of all U.S. crude oil production, considering the incident was a once in nearly 60,000 occurrence.

Steffy’s blog quoted David Rabalais, executive director of Terrebonne Port (the local port authority) as saying, "Unless they start issuing about 15 permits a month, this area's going to hurt, there's a lot of concern, there's a lot of scared people, and there's a lot of companies that aren't doing anything right now because they don't know what the future's going to hold."

Many companies are (justly) concerned that business might never come back and residents are perhaps more so concerned that neither will their way of living.