BRIGGS: Natural Gas Is Driving Louisiana’s Economy

One glance at the newspaper or a few minutes of watching the evening news and it is clear that the Louisiana economy is thriving with comparison to the rest of the United States. Plants are re-opening, oil and gas rigs can be seen peering over the treetops, the chemical and manufacturing industry are booming and new hotels and restaurants are lining the frontage roads. A major contributing factor to our state’s economic success is the natural gas industry.

Louisiana and many regions of the United States are experiencing a shale revolution, largely in part to the technology surrounding hydraulic fracturing and lateral drilling. While these shale plays are not newly discovered, many of them are now newly reachable within the last few years. Since 2008 alone, the natural gas industry in Louisiana has provided over 14 billion dollars in economic impact; with more than 60,000 jobs created due to the Haynesville Shale play in Northwest Louisiana.

New construction projects are popping up all over Louisiana thanks to the abundant natural resources that Louisiana has beneath our feet. In Cameron Parish, Cheniere Energy is constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) exportation plant that is an 11 billion dollar investment into Louisiana’s economy. Another win for Louisiana is coming to Calcasieu Parish thanks to Sasol, a energy and chemical plant, as they will be producing high quality transportation fuels. Sasol will be making an up to 21 billion dollar investment into the state. And Caddo Parish is receiving two economic victories, one from BHP Billiton, who opened a 70 million dollar state-of-the-art facility that houses the Haynesville Shale operations office, and the other victory coming from Benteler, who will be opening a steel making operation to the tune of 900 million dollars.

Dr. David Dismukes, a Ph.D. at the Center for Energy Studies at LSU, released a study recently with specific numbers about the future of our state. He said that the “abundance of natural gas resources has led to a virtual manufacturing renaissance in Louisiana where, to date, some $62.3 billion in new capital investments have been announced.” Dismukes goes on to say that resulting from the natural gas induced projects, over 214,000 thousand jobs and more than 9 billion dollars in increase wages will likely result over a 9-year period.

Jobs, multi-billion dollar investments and new plants are each a part of the macro-level ripple effect of the shale revolution that is taking place right here in Louisiana as well as around the country. To be more specific, Louisiana is the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States and the third largest consumer of natural gas. Dismukes credits the consumption level being due to the massive “energy- intensive manufacturing industry” in Louisiana.

Economic development announcements are a welcome sight in Louisiana as the rest of the country struggles to overcome one of the worst economic recessions since the Great Depression. These aforementioned announcements are just a few examples of what a bright future Louisiana can expect. As more natural resources are developed in Louisiana and abroad, we can only hope to see more plants open and more jobs available.



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