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Oil and gas industry has big rebound

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New Orleans, La. — If you want a job in the oil and gas industry, there is no shortage of them in south Louisiana. There has been a strong resurgence of oil and gas activities off Louisiana's coast, and it has happened faster than some people expected.

BP's catastrophic oil spill, which began April 20, 2010, sullied the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana's coastline. The oil and gas industry was devastated, too.

But three years later a huge rebound has occurred, according to industry experts.

"In essence, we have as many or more of these big deep-water rigs now as we had on April 20th, 2010," said Prof. Eric Smith, of Tulane University's Energy Institute.

The Louisiana Oil and Gas Association agrees.

"There's more rigs drilling now and moving into the deep-water Gulf of Mexico than we've had in the past, and so that is a really good sign because it brings a lot of jobs with it," said LOGA President Don Briggs.

There are so many employment opportunities that Terrebonne Parish cannot fill all of the jobs that are available.

"We have a lot of people needed, welders, marine, people who want to work in that area," said Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet.

LOGA said there is construction of deep water ships and other equipment underway.

Claudet said the available jobs are varied, both on land and offshore. "Fabrication... we have boats, we have offshore activities, you know, we're just such a big oilfield area," said Claudet.

He said someone with a high school diploma could start out making at least $60,000 a year after being trained. "The job pay is very good because they need to keep their workers," he said.

Briggs from LOGA said the Gulf's rich resources are attractive to the oil and gas industry. "The Gulf of Mexico still remains one of the crown jewels for, you know, developing resources," he said.

He and others said much of the industry has acclimated to the new federal regulations which resulted from the oil spill.

"I think the regulations, and most people would agree, are stricter. Some of them were good regulations. For example requirements for capping stacks to be available... we now have several of them available in the Gulf," said Professor Smith.

And after an oil spill that put the industry on its knees, the comeback has been undoubtedly strong.

"They're actually back to the [pre-spill] levels and surpassing where we were just prior to the BP spill," said Briggs.

According to LOGA, there are 77,000 oil and gas industry jobs statewide.

Professor Smith said shallow water activities have not rebounded in the same way as deep-water oil and gas activities.

"That business has largely been displaced by shale being produced onshore in Texas, Louisiana and other places," he said.

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