LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The oil & gas industry is as synonymous with Acadiana as the Rocky Mountains are with Colorado.
Over the past couple of years, Acadiana has lost approximately 17,000 jobs, with 7,000 of those being oil & gas jobs.
LOGA President Gifford Briggs says the current oil bust is worse than the one in the 1980’s.
“In the 80’s after the crash we had 36 rigs running on south Louisiana land. We have 6 today. And so there was a lot more activity still going on in Louisiana during the crash. Whereas today the activity is not in Louisiana.” said Briggs.
The movers and shakers in the oil & gas industry are all optimistic, but realistic at the same time when it comes to the floodgates opening and jobs pouring back into the region.
“You’re going to see a lot of the service sectors start to hire first because the first thing that usually turns on is drilling and exploration. And you need the service crews to do it. There’s a large inventory of prospects just waiting to be executed. So the first step will be to ramp up the service sector and after that it will be development and operations.” said Keith Seilhan, VP GOM of Stone Energy.
At the Port of Iberia there are about 100 companies that employ about 500 people.
Executive Director Craig Romero thinks that number could increase after he received calls from potential foreign investors.
“One company in particular out of Taiwan, just hearing President Trump’s comments with regards to foreign manufacturing and possible tariffs that could be implemented and imposed upon goods that were fully manufactured in foreign countries, they want to come to the U.S., particularly to a port.” said Romero.
Romero also says the deepening of the Port of Iberia channel should also provide more jobs to the area.
“We are trying to get to 16 foot. And that would bring us some larger projects at the Port of Iberia. And it’s referred to as an AGMAC channel – the Acadiana to the Gulf of Mexico Access Channel.” said Romero.
Leonard Castille has been in the oil industry for nearly 40 years and he predicts that 2017 will be a breakthrough year for the industry.
“A lot of Chevron properties on the shelf and they’re actually drilling those right now. They have two jack-up drilling rigs working right now.” said Castille.
Gregg Gothreaux of LEDA says Acadiana is much less dependent on the oil & gas industry now than in the 1980’s.
“72% of our economy was directly dependent on energy or oil & gas. Today…or in 2014 that number is more like 45%. So the diversification efforts have been successful.” said Gothreaux.
So as the saying goes, everything that goes around comes around.
And the oil industry will come back.
It will just take some time.
Some workers will have the opportunity to apply for the other available jobs in the area at the Industrial Trades Career Fair.
The job fair happens Wednesday, February 22nd from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Cajundome Convention Center.
You are encouraged to dress professionally and bring copies of your resume.
You will also have the opportunity to complete applications on site.
Many different companies will be on hand, including Bell Helicopters, Brock Services LTD., and Turner Industries.