GRAND ISLE, LA (WVUE) - An independent oil and gas production company that houses a heliport in Grand Isle had to lay off workers.
It is unclear how many workers Energy XXI had to lay off, but officials in Grand Isle are worried the layoffs will create a downturn in real estate value and property taxes, which would take much-needed money from the community.
"Everyone from grocery stores to oil workers, and it will continue. We don't see a light at the end of the tunnel," said grocery store owner Shelly Jambon.
In the current oil economy, shallow water production is way down. Energy XXI had dozens of shallow water platforms off of Grand Isle, some of which have been producing since the 1940s.
"Today's a bad day. They laid off a bunch of local people, and the timing is bad coming before Christmas," said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle.
Tulane Energy Institute's Eric Smith said the company probably suffered from new federal bonding requirements that made operation unprofitable.
"We've been hearing it for while end of the year they'll be gone," said Camardelle
Grand Isle officials said the company was good for the island.
"These guys came in and refurbished platforms, and when disaster hit they were there for us," said Camardelle.
"For Sale" signs are as common as shrimp boats along Bayou Lafourche. Business at the Sand Dollar Motel is down, and so are sales at Grand Isle's main grocery store, the Sureway.
"What was in our budget before isn't there anymore, especially in small communities," said Jambon.
Sales and property taxes are also taking a hit, but town officials said they're holding the line.
"We're asking people for patience. It's taking longer for services, but we're doing it," said Camardelle.
Mayor Carmadelle says with companies like this laying off workers, tourism on the island is more important than ever and he is now taking steps to develop that portion of the Island's economy.
Experts say shallow water wells could become profitable again if oil prices rise dramatically. Shallow water oil and gas activity continues to make the industry as a whole suffer.
"Our tourists pull us through," said Jambon. "They've been a godsend, and I hope they keep supporting us."
The heliport was active until recent years.
Energy XXI has properties in the Gulf of Mexico waters and the Gulf Coast onshore. It operates nine of the largest oilfields on the Gulf of Mexico Shelf.