Energy industry drives Louisiana's economy

One has to look no further than the annual wages paid by the energy industry, $361.5 million in Orleans Parish alone, to see that the state’s energy industry drives the economy the same way a powerful motor does a car, economist Loren Scott said Thursday.

Only residents of Lafayette Parish, at $1.4 billion, and Terrebonne, at $558.1 million, were paid more by oil and gas producers, refiners and pipeline companies, Scott said.

Scott spoke during a press conference on the 2014 update of “The Energy Sector: A Giant Economic Engine for the Louisiana Economy.” The fifth edition of the study, funded by the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Grow Coalition, analyzes the energy industry’s contributions, such as jobs and tax revenue.

“Think of Louisiana as a big economic pond,” Scott said. “And into this pond you’re going to drop … a very big rock.”

An energy industry-sized rock. A rock whose 2011 impact included 287,000 jobs, $73.8 billion in sales for Louisiana companies and $20.5 billion in household earnings. Louisiana’s household earnings from the energy industry were greater than the total value of goods and services produced by 86 countries.

The study found that oil and gas producers, refiners and pipeline companies in the state:

Paid nearly $1.5 billion in state taxes and fees in fiscal 2013, which ended June 30

Paid $410 million in property taxes to local governments in 2013, a 37.5 percent increase over 2009

Produce 1.4 million barrels of oil per day, the second-highest total in the country. This figure includes production from federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, but almost all of that production comes ashore in Louisiana.

Louisiana also ranked No. 2 in oil refining capacity with 19 refineries and a total daily capacity of 3.3 million barrels. Louisiana is home to three of the country’s five largest refineries: Marathon in Garyville, No. 2; ExxonMobil in Baton Rouge, No. 3; and Citgo in Lake Charles, No. 5.

The state has 79,289 miles of onshore pipelines that serve the energy and petrochemical industries. In addition, there are 36,554 miles of active and proposed pipelines off the state’s coast.

The energy industry’s impact on Louisiana is huge and growing, Scott said. The state is lucky to have these kinds of resources.

“If you want to know what Louisiana would look like without the energy sector, all you have to do is look one state over to the east,” he said.

Mississippi has similar demographics to Louisiana, but its energy industry is miniscule. Mississippi’s per capita income ranks 50th in the United States. Louisiana’s is No. 32.

Chris John, president of Mid-Continent, said it’s an exciting time be in the oil and gas industry.

The United States is now the world’s biggest oil producer, thanks to advances in technology and the development of a number of oil-rich shale formations, John said. America is becoming something thought impossible just a few years ago: energy secure.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.