The economic consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the oil glut generated by the Saudis and Russians, and the lack of storage are being felt at a much quicker pace than previously projected, gravely threatening Louisiana’s energy sector.
The second in a series of “point-in-time” surveys shows that nearly a quarter of the state’s oil related workforce has potentially already been laid off, and four in every five Exploration and Production (E&P) companies have already begun shutting in wells.
“Our members have indicated they’ve already been forced to lay off 23 percent of their workforce and the large majority are now taking steps to shut-in production,” Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Gifford Briggs said. “We feared these outcomes would take place by mid-to-late May, but the crushing weight of the crisis is taking hold much quicker than expected. Without a doubt, we need federal and state policymakers to take immediate action to help mitigate further losses from these extreme market conditions.”
Louisiana’s severance tax rate is the highest in the country at 12.5 percent, nearly four times the neighboring Texas 4.6 percent rate. “We’re worried about taxes and other costs that are not going down that we still have to pay as prices have cratered,” the head of one Louisiana energy company shared.
Oil prices closed most recently on the West Texas Intermediate at $18.84, a menacingly low amount. Louisiana’s independent producers require an average of $37.00 a barrel to break even.
Further, more than half of company leaders indicated that bankruptcy or closures are likely. “We have been forced to cut salaries between 6-and-20 percent for our employees,” one member shared. “I as the owner have cut my salary to zero.”
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the Department of Natural Resources, the oil and gas industry employs approximately 33,900 workers operating around 33,650 oil and gas wells around the state.
Those tens of thousands of jobs bring Louisiana families $3.2 billion in wages. According to the survey results, 23 percent have already reportedly had to be laid off.
State tax revenue will also suffer drastically from the sharp decline in oil prices and staggering job losses across the state.
This survey from LOGA’s members, which comprises 450 exploration and production and service companies across Louisiana, is below.
LOGA Survey Results
“We’re one of the largest employers in Louisiana with the highest average wages. Just imagine what shut-ins and company closures mean for individuals and communities. These are real dollars and their lack is going to be felt all across the state,” Briggs added.
“Of the things we can control, we must take bold action to enact immediate changes,” Briggs said. “We are looking forward to working with the legislature and the administration to figure out how to keep wells flowing and keep people employed as long as possible.”
Emergency Measures to Help the Louisiana Oil & Gas Industry Survive
One member summed up the widespread feeling of dejection in the oil patch. “If we are truly an essential industry, we sure don’t feel like it right now.”