Louisiana will gain 3,500 new oilfield jobs through mid-2023, but there's a catch

Keith Magill
Daily Comet

Louisiana will gain 3,500 new oilfield jobs by June, but it won't be enough to recoup those lost since the COVID pandemic began in early 2020, a new LSU study says.

The forecast is included in the "2023 Gulf Coast Energy Outlook," released last week by the LSU Center for Energy Studies.

Louisiana lost 8,700 oil and gas exploration and production jobs, about 26% of its total, after the pandemic hit, the report says. Since then, the state has regained 2,500 of those jobs.

The predicted job gains through mid-2023 hinge on the center's estimate that oil prices will average about $80 a barrel next year.

An oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report does not specify exactly where the jobs will be located, but the trends are similar to those in a report released last month by Louisiana economist Loren Scott.

Scott's annual forecast predicts Houma-Thibodaux will gain 2,400 jobs over the next two years, but it won't be enough to recoup the losses sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic followed by Hurricane Ida.

The metro area, comprised of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, lost 8,900 jobs, 10.2% of its total, in April 2020 after the pandemic hit, along with state-enforced restrictions on business and social activity, Scott told local business leaders.

By this June, the oil-dependent area had regained only 22% of the jobs it had before the pandemic, down 6,900 from early 2020, his report says.

The new LSU report says demand for oil and gas will be tempered by global inflation and a continued shift away from high carbon fossil fuels blamed for global warming.

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"Decarbonization will challenge existing Gulf Coast energy manufacturing, but it will also create an opportunity," the report says.

The report forecasts as much as $175.4 billion in new energy manufacturing investment activity from 2022 through 2030 across the Gulf Coast, with about $121 billion, or 69%, of it in Louisiana. Gulf Coast investment is $15 billion, or 7.9%, less than the center forecast last year over a similar time frame.

"What differs in this outlook relative to prior years is the surge in new 'energy transition' investments," the report says.

About $29 billion has been set aside for a wide range of cleaner energy manufacturing, including hydrogen, liquefied natural gas and ammonia, as well as carbon capture projects, the report says. The Inflation Reduction Act passed last year by Congress includes $386 billion in clean energy financial incentives.

The LSU report says the investment creates an opportunity for "regional leadership in the development of the production capacity for liquid fuels, chemicals, plastics, fertilizers and other products historically derived from fossil fuels."