A Partnership Worth Keeping

From the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico to the drilling rigs in the Hayensville Shale, the oil and gas industry has played a vital role our culture, economy, and our community. It is well known in Louisiana that if you do business in our great state, you are somehow involved in the oil and gas sector.

The oil and gas industry is a key segment in Louisiana’s economy. One study suggests that our industry is responsible for 300,000 jobs and over $4 billion in contributions to state and local coffers. It is estimated that Louisiana’s oil and gas industry has an economic impact of nearly $74 billion in our great state.

The oil and gas industry has been a constant economic driver for Louisiana, providing not only jobs but valuable revenue that is used to protect and restore Louisiana coastal areas. Between January 2009 and January 2016, Louisiana collected more than $3 billion in severance taxes from wells in the coastal zone. These tax dollars are then sent to the legislature for lawmakers to decide how these fund will be appropriated for various coastal projects.

Louisiana also benefits from federal programs that rely on oil and gas revenues to fund coastal protection and restoration along the Gulf Coast. The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act or, GOMESA, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006, shares leasing revenues amongst the four oil and gas producing gulf-states of Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana. The share funds are to be used for coastal conservation, restoration, and hurricane protection. This act also stipulates that over 8 million acres be offered for oil and gas leasing. It has been estimated that Louisiana has generated nearly $140 million a year for costal projects since this legislation was enacted.

Another federal program that Louisiana has contributed to and has greatly benefitted from has been the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. This program allocates funds based on offshore oil and gas revenues. From 2007 to 2010, Louisiana has received $300 million and is set to receive another $36 million this year, all paid to coastal projects in Louisiana. These numbers are impressive, but they are just the dollars that Louisiana and the federal government has collected, not including any private investments that oil and gas companies have made here.

Over the past five years, ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge sites have made approximately $1.4 billion in environmental investments. The Nature Conservancy, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and Chevron have invested an estimated $1 million to build a brand new artificial oyster reef in St. Bernard Parish.  Chevron, Shell, and CITGO contributed to the   Foundation Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) Shoreline Stabilization and Restoration Project that will create four miles of embankment along both sides of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Lafourche Parish. The estimated investment of this project is $1.2 million. The list of projects that the oil and gas industry are investing in goes on and on.

While Louisiana finds itself in a continual financial tailspin from upticks in unemployment, we must provide an environment for the oil and gas industry to thrive. The state must provide a tax environment that will encourage future investment and a legal climate that doesn’t force banks and investors to look elsewhere when searching for new drilling projects. The partnership that Louisiana has with the oil and gas industry must continue, the success of us all depends on it.

Its More Than Just Rig Counts

At the start of the recent downturn in global oil prices, experts both inside and out of the industry relied on rig count data to be the grand indicator of how the industry was doing and when we might see signs of recovery from the tough financial times.

When the rig count dropped, industry experts lowered the lights, pulled up a seat right next to B.B. King, and joined in the chorus of “The Thrill is Gone.” As the rig count now increases, the lights shine a little brighter, and in the distance, you can hear Journey’s 1980s anthem, “Don’t Stop Believin’” gradually grow louder as we prepare for potential recovery.

The industry and investors would, and in many cases, still rely too heavily on rig count activity to be the leading indicator as to where the industry and the market is headed. What needs to be recognized is that an increase in rig activity gives us promising data, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there are gains in reserves bases or profits made for completing a well for service companies.

It’s not to say that rig activity is somehow off-base or inaccurate, but looking solely to rig count activity gives you a limited view of what might or might not be happening. In order to the get full picture of our future, we need to look at a few different factors that are affecting oil and gas companies. The first is DUCS or drilled uncompleted wells.

DUCS are wells, particularly in shale formations, that have been drilled by producers but have not yet been made ready for production. During the recent oil downturn, new drilling and completion activity decreased and the number of DUCS increased. Right now there are 6,298 DUCS in the lower 48 states. While that might sound like a bad thing, the abundance of uncompleted wells allows the U.S. the ability to not only respond quickly to increases in domestic oil prices, but to respond with force.

The next item to look at when attempting to gauge the health of the oil and gas industry is the location. For instance, North Dakota recently issued allowance of an additional year to defer the completion of uncompleted wells. In some cases, companies will drill to uphold their obligations to secure acreage.  However, some companies will not immediately complete the well in hopes that prices will rise and then they can move the well into production.

Some formations are more profitable for the industry at different prices. Back when oil was near $90, the Bakken Formation, located in the North Dakota and Montana area, rig activity trailed that of the Permian and Eagleford Formation. The opposite was true when prices nose-dived. As a result, the reduction in drilling on the Bakken was more severe than that of both Permian and Eagleford formation.

The oil and gas sector has made steady advances in the way of exploration and production. The technology we now use allows companies to perform more thorough work in producing

hydrocarbons. According to the co-founder of drillinginfo.com, Mark Nibbelink, “Production flows are nearly double what they were in boom times, and we are now doing it with rig counts that are 40 percent below 2014 levels.” The oil and gas sector is resilient, and we will continue to advance our process and technology as we preserve energy security. As we prepare for the future of our industry, we must take into account all factors when preparing our next moves.

A Step to Reignite Louisiana’s Oil and Gas Industry

The 2017 Regular Legislative Session was 60 days of sloshing in waste deep tax policy in order to fix a budget deficit and prepare the state for the upcoming fiscal cliff. During this period, unusual alliances were made, and long-time partners found themselves disagreeing on various tax policies and how to go about fixing Louisiana’s budgetary woes. There were a couple of items that garnered consensus among both the House and Senate, in particular, House Bill 461.

The Chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Representative Stuart Bishop (R- Lafayette), filed House Bill 461 at the request of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA). This bill reinstates a tax incentive for inactive wells that was done away with in 2010. The incentive reduces the severance tax for 10 years by 50 percent on inactive wells and by 75 percent on wells that have been a part of the state’s Orphaned Well Program for five years or longer. All of this will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

So what qualifies as an inactive well, and what is an orphaned well?

For a well to qualify as inactive, the well must have seen less than 30 days of production in a 730 day, or two year, period. In short, these wells are producing little to nothing and thus, deemed inactive. The Orphaned Well Program was started in large part by LOGA President, Don Briggs, in 1993. The purpose of this program is to plug abandoned wells and restore the sites so they may be redeveloped. The term “orphaned” refers to a well site where the operator of record is no longer a viable, responsible party.  Since its establishment, the program has plugged over 2,000 wells at a cost of $64 million.

A common question from legislators when presented with the language of the bill was, “If we are cutting severance tax rates on inactive wells by 50 and 75 percent, won’t this hurt Louisiana’s bottom line?” In short, no. If the state is to tax an inactive well that is producing nothing, the state will collect nothing in tax revenue. Furthermore, the state is liable for properly restoring some of these well sites.

Legislators also asked, “How then does this help our state’s financial situation?” It is rather straightforward:  in order to save the state money on plugging orphaned wells, we must lower the tax rate to incentivize companies to begin producing out of these wells again. When companies start producing, tax revenue is generated, jobs are created, and royalties for the state are increased. HB 461 incentivizes operators to re-enter existing well-bores and implement new technologies to produce oil and gas that were not previously recoverable from the original reservoir.

LOGA worked around the clock to show legislators the great benefit that HB 461 could provide for Louisiana. The House first supported the measure unanimously, then the Senate, and eventually, Governor Edwards would let his support be known. A bill that offers an incentive to companies to create jobs and increase economic activity, all without impacting Louisiana’s bottom line, is hard not to support.

On July 26, HB 461 was signed into law, becoming Act 421. We would like to thank Representative Stuart Bishop (R-Lafayette) and all other co-authors of this legislation for their hard work in pushing this measure through the process and supporting Louisiana’s oil and gas sector. This is a step in the right direction towards reigniting Louisiana’s oil and gas industry.

The Center of the Natural Gas Universe

Here in Louisiana, a source of pride amongst our oil and gas industry has been the pipeline infrastructure and exporting facilities we possess in the state. This infrastructure has allowed Louisiana to lead the charge as we pursue energy security and haul energy resources across the state, nation, and globe. There is one place, an unassuming Cajun town in south Louisiana, where all transportation aspects intersect and shape the natural gas market as we know it, the Henry Hub.

Named after its location in the Henry hamlet of Erath, Louisiana, the Henry Hub is the center of the natural gas trading universe. The North American gas market relies on this hub to set the “Henry price” that will allow all other natural gas trading points to set their reference price on thousands of commercial contracts. According to a 2012 article by RBN Energy, an average of nearly 400,000 natural gas futures contracts are traded at this hub every day.  Today, the Henry Hub stands as one the best-known known trading post in all of North America.

The Henry Hub, which is owned and operated by Sabine Pipe Line, LLC, a subsidiary of EnLink Midstream, serves as a connecting point for nine interstate and four intrastate pipelines that includes: Gulf South Pipeline, Southern Natural Gas, Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America, Texas Gas Transmission, Sabine Pipeline, Columbia Gulf Transmission, Transcontinental Gas Pipeline, Trunkline Gas, Jefferson Island Pipeline and Acadian Gas. These pipelines, along with the two compressor stations on site, allow for extreme flexibility and the ability to transport 1.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcf) of natural gas.

For more than a quarter of a century, traders from across the nation have revered the Henry Hub as the ultimate pricing authority to set current and future U.S. natural gas contracts. This hub is the center of natural gas spot trading and virtually every British thermal unit, more often referred to as BTU, that is sold can be linked to the Henry Hub. In one way or another, the Henry Hub touches almost every single aspect of the United States’ natural gas market.

Among other things, the location of the Henry Hub is very advantageous for Louisiana. We are in the midst of what some would say is an LNG revolution. The technology used to produce natural gas has dramatically improved. This was not always the case, as some used to argue that it was too costly to produce. In Louisiana, the Haynesville Shale was once pushed aside because shale gas could be produced in the northeast at a lower cost. Now companies are reexamining that decision because of Louisiana’s access to the Gulf and more importantly, the abundance of pipeline infrastructure.

This vital infrastructure is taking the ability away from OPEC to control the price of the global market. The operation of the Henry Hub, the reemergence of the Hayensville Shale, and the expansion that LNG facilities are experiencing throughout south Louisiana are all contributing toward a brighter future and something we must continue to work towards.

OPEC: The End of the Line

From Traders working the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to the owner of mom and pop oil and gas companies, everyone was waiting to hear if the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would extend oil production cuts. This anxious feeling of waiting on OPEC nations to decide the flow of the market may soon come to an end.

Previously, OPEC has had a stronghold on global oil production. Between 2014-2015, OPEC continually exceeded their production ceiling at the same time the U.S. was increasing oil production due to the advancement in shale fracking technology. The mixture of OPEC production exceeding the ceiling and the U.S. moving toward energy independence created an oversupply of oil in the worldwide market, which would eventually lead to a collapse in oil prices in 2016.

OPEC tasted blood in the water and saw an opportunity to regain market shares so they pumped as much oil as they could into the market in attempt to put U.S. Shale producers to rest. However, after years of demising returns and waning financial reserves, OPEC members were ready for a change and sought to agree on production cuts – the first since 2008.

In November 2016, after OPEC had regained a modest portion of the market shares and many competing drilling projects had been canceled, OPEC finalized a decision to reduce production by approximately 1 million barrels per day. Since the agreement, oil prices have risen, and U.S. oil production is up.

Last week it was announced that 22 OPEC and Non-OPEC nations agreed to extend crude oil productions cuts for an additional 9 months. This cut will account for nearly 2 percent of global production in the market, hopefully boosting prices. With each production cut that OPEC agrees to, it leaves the door open for American producers to maintain a steady incline.

During the slower times, American producers became more efficient and learned how to produce profits at low global prices. U.S. crude production has seen steady growth topping more than 9 millions barrels a day in February, and the rigs in operation have more than doubled from May of the previous year. As OPEC continues to cut production, the U.S. will continue its quest to become energy independent and an oil and gas superpower.

The control that OPEC once had is no longer there. According to a chief market strategist for ThinkMarkets in London, “The oil cartel is simply no longer a super power.” Even the Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih has expressed the certainty that OPEC no longer possesses the power to control the global market. The sharp increase in production has put OPEC in quite a predicament, and now they are left to figure out how they will coexist will U.S. production.

OPEC significantly underestimated the resiliency of the United States and awoke a sleeping giant. As the U.S. continues stake its claims as a superpower, Louisiana will continue to be at the center of this quest. Our pipeline infrastructure continues to be the envy of neighboring states, not to mention our ports, channels, and access to the Gulf. These advantages give us the ability to export our oil and gas products globally and lead the U.S. to energy independence.

BRIGGS: The Reemergence of the Haynesville Shale

The oil and gas industry could not be more diverse in Louisiana. In south Louisiana, in particular, the industry is experiencing historically low and stagnant rig growth, while the rest of the country sees a resurgence in rig activity. In northwest Louisiana, there is a glimmer of hope for the oil and gas sector, and that driving force is the Haynesville Shale.

The Haynesville Shale formation is a layer of sedimentary rock situated more than 10,000 feet below the surface and stretches from northwest Louisiana to parts of eastern Texas and also grabs the southwest part of Arkansas. The formation covers an area of approximately 9,000 squares miles and averages between 200 and 300 feet in thickness. It accounts for the third largest shale play with the potential of holding nearly 500 trillion cubic feet of gas.  

At one point in time, this formation was thought to be too financially burdensome to explore, but with advances in hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling, and a spike in energy costs, companies began to explore. What they found was vast amounts of recoverable natural gas known as shale gas.

This discovery would eventually lead to the Haynesville Shale boom between 2008 and 2010. It was estimated that during 2009, approximately $10.6 billion in new business sales, nearly $5.7 billion in household earnings, and nearly 58,000 new jobs were created.   

Unfortunately, in recent years, the Haynesville has been pushed out of the way in favor of more low-cost plays such as the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York areas, and Utica Shale in Quebec. Due to the northeast’s lack of pipeline infrastructure and their shut-in production, the Haynesville is becoming more attractive again. Doug Lawler, CEO of Chesapeake, said it best, “[The Haynesville] was largely written off by industry two to three years ago, but it has reemerged stronger than ever.”

Louisiana’s access to the gulf, abundance of pipelines and processing plants, along with the industry’s advancements in drilling technology, has lead to a resurgence in the Haynesville Shale. Just last March output from Haynesville fell to a six year low. Production in this formation will now climb for the seventh straight month in June, reaching the highest since October 2014.

The infrastructure needed to export and process the natural gas produced from the Haynesville is contingent upon economic growth in Louisiana.  As of January 2017, there were six LNG Export terminals approved, two of which are currently under construction. Even more recently, Venture Global announced an $8.5 billion LNG complex, G2 LNG is planning for an $11 billion natural gas facility, Magnolia LNG announced a planned $3.45 billion facility, and Cheniere shipped over 100 cargoes of domestic LNG starting back in February.

As stated in a Forbes article, “Louisiana [has] an underrated edge because oil/gas production is ingrained in the culture.” The Haynesville Shale was once a shale play left for dead, but now we are seeing the reemergence that could completely change the game for Louisiana. This culture of oil and gas production that hailed from generations past must be realized. This culture and tradition must be carried on for decades to come for the sake of Louisiana.

Louisiana’s Road to Recovery

It has been over one hundred days since Trump took office and in that time, we have seen the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipeline projects jump started, many regulations from the Obama-era rolled back, as well as a rejuvenation of leasing programs and streamlining processes for permitting on federal land and water. The American people and the oil and gas industry alike have greatly benefitted from Trump’s America Energy First plan.

The optimism that was once sensed has not only been realized by energy producers but has since grown in strength. The proof is in the pudding. In May of 2016, the United State was struggling with only 404 rigs, but as of last week, the rig count has grown to nearly 900 rigs nationwide. Louisiana went from 21 land rigs last year to nearly 42 rigs currently running today.

At first glance, the increase in rigs in Louisiana looks promising, but upon further review, of the nearly 900 rigs in the United States, over 50% of the rigs are in Texas; the Permian Basin alone makes upon 40% of our nation’s total rig count. Louisiana, with our 42 land rigs, accounts for less than 5% of all oil rigs running in the United States. Of the 42 rigs, a dismal 2 rigs are running in South Louisiana. While the United States experiences record growth, we continue to be inflicted by historic lows.

If there is one thing that Louisiana should excel in, it should be in oil and gas. So what standing in the way?

Well on May 2nd, numerous representatives of oil and gas companies from all across Louisiana descended upon the Louisiana State Capitol for the 2017 Oil and Natural Gas Industry Day in Baton Rouge. There, oil and gas professionals, executives, as well as legislators were able to discuss recent activity as well the lack of growth in Louisiana.

One executive commented that when traveling into Midland, Texas, nearly a third of the license plates he saw were from the great state of Louisiana. Another local oil company executive said that Louisiana is losing the battle when it comes to retaining an oil and gas workforce and that states like Texas and Colorado are stealing our talented laborers. It was shared among all at the event that while companies look to invest, Louisiana is more often than not scratched off the list due to current litigation against oil and gas companies.

Presently, there are over 400 Legacy Lawsuits, and as of recent, 6 coastal parishes filing suit against oil and gas companies. These lawsuits are detouring future oil and gas investment and forcing the hardworking men and women of the oil and gas industry to seek jobs elsewhere. The opportunity to fix our budget issues and stop the ongoing trend of unemployment is sitting right in front of us.

The federal issues that once plagued the oil and gas industry seem to be on their way out under the Trump administration. The stage is set for Louisiana to drive down the road to recovery, but first we must take the car out of park.

Ports, Louisiana’s secret ingredient

If you talk to anybody about Louisiana, nine times out of ten, the first thing that comes to mind is our food — and it is for good reason. We take great care in preparing local dishes and protecting our secret ingredients or special processes, especially when it comes to gumbo. Whether it is a homemade roux, a certain smoked sausage, or fresh duck out of the rice field, every recipe is meant to stand out.

Louisiana, like many other states in the nation, is known to produce energy. The secret ingredient that makes Louisiana stand out from the rest of the country is not only our access to the Gulf, but the infrastructure available to export U.S. goods to the world through our ports.

Our ports and ship channels are the roux to our oil and gas industry gumbo. These avenues of exportation are an economic driver for our state providing 525,000 jobs, nearly $2 billion in local taxes, and another $2.4 billion in state taxes.

The LNG community relies heavily upon these shipping channels as they grow and expand. Recently, Cheniere exported it 100th LNG Cargo, Venture Global announced an $8.5 billion LNG complex, G2 LNG is planning for an $11 billion natural gas facility, and Magnolia LNG has announced a planned $3.45 billion facility, to name a few. There is a reason that LNG and PetroChemical companies have chosen Louisiana, and that is because our waterways give these companies unprecedented access to foreign consumers.

With the amount of tax revenue it brings and the total number of jobs created by our ports, it would seem that this infrastructure would remain a top priority. Unfortunately, scrolling through Louisiana’s budget doesn’t seem to show that sentiment.

As it stands, the state has no dedicated funding source to keep our ports and channels at proper depth and to keep them maintained. The only funding that could come for these projects is through the capitol outlay process, and that tends to be very political. Year after year of recommendations, we often see these funds have yet to materialize. The current Port Priority Program does not allow for funding of these channel projects.

There is a current backlog in deepening projects of which the state is responsible for no more than 25 percent of the total cost, which is around $100 -130 million over twenty years. The rest of the funding, albeit that the proper permits are in place, is provided by the state from the federal government. The Calcasieu Ship Channel alone is in need of $79 million from the state over the next twenty years to meet its federal obligation.

If there is currently a backlog, how are these channels still navigable for cargo ships? Local communities and parishes have had to dig up and sometimes borrow funds in order to keep the channels functional, but this is not a viable long-term solution. The local parties may be able to come up with cash to dredge to proper depth once or twice but what happens when there is nothing left?

Unfortunately, there is a dreaded smell – the smell of a burning roux. As we see expansion of LNG facilities, we also see the shallowing our waterways. These deep draft channels are vital to the existence of our state, but without the proper funding, these channels will not be navigable.

Our state leaders must realize that an investment in our ports means an overall investment in Louisiana. It is time that the state join the locals’ hands on that spoon to stir the roux, keeping our channels deep and open for business. Maybe it’s to revisit Louisiana’s offshore limits in the Gulf and increase our revenue sharing so that Louisiana infrastructure would see the proper attention it deserves.


It’s Time to Flip the Conversation

With all the talk about optimism in the American oil and gas industry, it is puzzling to some to read a headline stating that a community heavy in oil and gas is experiencing job loss. Unfortunately, this is becoming an all to common trend in Louisiana.

While United States is experiencing a significant increase in drilling activity, Louisiana is seeing historically low rig counts. The United States saw a drastic increase in employment from 4.5 percent in December to 5.1 in January, but communities like the Houma-Thibodaux area saw 1,800 jobs cut in the same 31-day period. Unemployment in this area has increased from 6.1 percent in December to 6.7 percent in January, according to the article.

This declining trend in employment is of grave concern for many of our state officials. The State Legislative Economist, Greg Albrecht, said at a recent Revenue Estimating Conference meeting, “What we need is employment growth to stop declining. It boils down to that. We have to have job growth. Or at least slower declining… We need to see some sustained improvement in that.”

An increase in unemployment is harmful to our communities and even worse for our state’s bottom line. The Commissioner of Administration, Jay Dardenne, blamed the rate of unemployment for our budget woes. He said, “All that points back to employment. I think our biggest challenge is to turn around the state’s employment numbers….The big challenge for the state right now is to reverse that trend and get more people working so that they’re paying income tax and that they’re buying more things.”

The Houma-Thibodaux area, like the rest of Louisiana, is highly dependent on our oil and gas industry. Of the 6,600 total jobs lost in that community, 3,700 direct oil and gas jobs were lost. It is highly likely that the remaining 2,900 jobs were lost due to the significance the industry has in this area.

What is most disheartening is the action the state has taken against hundreds of oil and gas companies. As we speak, 5 coastal parishes are suing oil and gas companies for alleged damages. To make matters worse, the Governor sent a letter to 15 coastal parishes stating that if they didn’t file suit against these oil companies, the state would do it for them.

Louisiana’s tax environment is not necessarily a welcome mat to future investment either. Over the past two years, there have been over a billion dollars in taxes raised. It’s hard to believe that any business, regardless of the industry, would want to come to Louisiana and stand in line for the state to decide what’s their “fair share.”

It’s time to flip the conversation. We need to have robust discussions about what it would take to get the industry back to work. What can we do to attract more investment should be the focus, not how can we extract more from the companies fighting for survival. The oil and gas industry has the ability to pull Louisiana out of these tough financial times. Instead of adding insult to injury, let’s create a stable tax environment that welcomes growth and investment, and stop the frivolous lawsuits that are driving vital jobs out of Louisiana.

One Step Forward

A billowing sigh of relief was heard from oil and gas companies all across Louisiana, and with that sigh came a little boost of confidence.

On March 3, the United States 5th District Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority’s East lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies.

In June of 2013, the Flood Protection Authority filed a lawsuit against oil and gas companies claiming that years of oil and gas exploration and production activity had damaged coastal wetlands and that this activity threatened the integrity of hurricane levees.

This lawsuit is merely one example where the oil and gas industry is being targeted with unnecessary and costly lawsuits.

One of the often-spoken mistruths by these attorneys is that the industry is not properly regulated, but according to George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the oil and gas industry is one of the most regulated industries in all of the United States, with Louisiana standing on top as the most regulated state.

Their research shows that oil and gas companies must navigate nearly 12,000 federal regulations plus the numerous restrictions placed upon these companies by their respective states.

What we should be concerned about are the effects that fallacious litigation is having on our state.

While the United States experiences a 50 percent increase in rig counts, Louisiana continues to see historically low numbers.

Lawsuits like these and many others have closed the door on new investment and are stifling the growth of our state’s economy.

It is difficult to believe that an oil and gas company would decide to lay roots in Louisiana, knowing that 20 years down the road they could be sued for millions while following the laws and being a good partner with both the state and local communities.

These frivolous lawsuits have contributed to the loss of 30,000 oil and gas jobs, $1.5 billion in lost wages, and worse, have turned Louisiana into the number one “judicial hellhole” in the country, according to a litigation watchdog group.

This is not how we want businesses, industry and future families to see our beloved state.

Historically, the oil and gas industry has always been a steady economic driver for Louisiana.

The industry is one of the largest job producers in the state, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Local and parish governments receive more than $1 million per day in taxes paid by oil and gas companies that they can then turn around and use for infrastructure, education and health care.

Nearly 15 percent, or $2.5 billion, of the state’s total taxes, licenses, and fees collected from oil and gas companies are used to bolster the state’s coffers, with many of them going to pay for vital parts of state government.

Louisiana’s health and the protection of its people have and will always remain a top priority for Louisiana’s oil and gas industry.

The people who run and work in these companies are a part of the community.

Not only is coastal Louisiana their livelihood, but it is also the place where they raise their families and enjoy the sportsman’s paradise.

One such example of the industry’s commitment to our communities and the environment is Apache Corporation, who donated 1.7 million trees across the coast of Louisiana.

This year, the company will receive the Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Recognition Program.

In times of natural disaster, the oil and gas industry has always had Louisiana’s back.

In 2005 when Katrina ravaged communities in south Louisiana, oil and gas companies united their time and resources to aid in the recovery.

The industry raised over $1 million, supplying generators and clothing in Bogalusa, housing for victims, providing fuel to the Bogalusa Medical Center and schooling money for displaced children from New Orleans.

Most recently, the industry dispensed nearly $40,000 to families and individuals who were affected by last summer’s flooding.

It is clear that Louisiana’s oil and gas industry is a great friend to the state.

This industry has the ability to assist in pulling us out of the budgetary issues we now face and the capacity to pull families together during times of crises and natural disaster.

We are proud to call Louisiana home, and we will continue to fight for the success of our industry as well as the great people of Louisiana.