The Louisiana Oil & Gas Association (LOGA) President Gifford Briggs gave a State of the Industry address yesterday afternoon at the Courtyard by Marriott in Houma, in front of business owners, local politicians and other oil and gas industry representatives.
Briggs opened the presentation by talking about social media and the importance it has in creating the narrative for the oil and gas industry.
“…While we're punching holes in the ground, providing energy and economic security for people all over the globe, there are people out there that want to bring us down. They are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to talk about the horrible things that our industry does,” he said. “But what we don't do is share our story. We don't talk about the great things that we do… We need to share the stories [on social media] of the people in our community…”
Briggs later continued to detail the history of the “roller coaster ride” that is the oil and gas industry, with its up and down swings, which led him to one of the current concerns for Louisiana energy production — shale oil production in Texas.
“Everyone's moved out to Texas and moving into the Permian Basin, the shale production has brought US energy production to record highs,” he said. “The swing producer is no longer Saudi Arabia and OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries]. The swing producers are the American shale companies that were small independents and are now a major oil and gas companies…”
Later, the head of LOGA addressed legacy lawsuits and the effect he is witnessing them create on local the oil and gas industry. “People have lost interest in Louisiana. They're scared to do business here,” he said.
Briggs attributed most of, if not all, the damage to the Baton Rouge-based law firm Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello — specifically John Carmouche — saying that one law firm and one trial lawyer “has brought the South Louisiana oil and gas industry to its knees.”
The law firm is representing six parishes in more than 40 lawsuits against several oil and gas companies. Briggs addressed the latest settlement the firm was behind – the $100 million payout by Freeport McMoran. He said it was not a settlement, rather an agreement “between two guys that were having coffee or a beer” because nothing was signed. The settlement happening in the middle of an election cycle was brought to question by Briggs, too.
Soon after, Briggs discussed the importance of the ongoing elections — choosing candidates that are for the oil and gas industry (LOGA political action committee endorses Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham for governor.), 2019 Louisiana Amendment No. 1 (concerning taxed offshore drilling equipment stored in Louisiana) and redistricting.
“This is such a critical time for our industry. It's a turning point...,” Briggs said. “Do we want to be a state like Texas that welcomes jobs and opportunities and investment with record funding for infrastructure, schools, roads, hospitals, the whole deal? Or do we want to be a state like Louisiana that’s pushing the industry out?”