Oil price increase may be a sign of reviving industry

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Oil prices are the highest they've been in years, reaching almost $80 per barrel.

"I feel like people shouldn't have to decide between medication, paying their bills, or gas," a concerned consumer at the gas station said.

Prices are the highest they've been since 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"I think it shows that we don't have as much surplus oil as we thought we did," Associate Director of Tulane Energy Institute Eric Smith said.

Smith said the reason for this is politics.

"One is with the discussion about embargoes on oil from Iran. Particularly when there's disarray between the U.S. and the EU. That's creating a politics of scarcity and driving the price up," Smith said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards says the oil sectors could reap the benefits.

"The employment could get much much better and they would also pay their employees better so that's why it would be very important to the State of Louisiana," Edwards said.

Areas heavily dependent on the oil industry, like Plaquemines Parish, may see a boost in the economy.

"The fact that oil prices are going up is very good news for Louisiana, the state, and also for Plaquemines Parish, because we're both very heavily dependent on oil and gas production as a major source of revenue," said Parish President Amos Cormier III.

In 2016, crude oil hit a low of $27 per barrel.

Cormier hopes this spike will revive the oil industry.

"I think it's getting close, and that's very good news. I think you talk to different people, some people say the magical number was $75 a barrel to really incentivize further investment in oil and gas production," Cormier said.

Some pumping gas said they aren't bothered by a few extra dollars per gallon.

"I say let the free market do what it needs to do, because even though we'll keep paying the extra dollar or two higher, the extra benefits will filter down throughout the economy for everybody that's in the refinery business for everybody that's out working in the oil field," Richard Forsyth said.

While others said every penny counts, and they will have to re-adjust their budgets.

"In Louisiana, the car insurance is so high, and now gas is so high. It's just getting way too expensive to drive," a woman said while pumping gas.

"Even if it's high, I got to get it, cause I got to go, I got to go to my job," said another.

Cormier said more than half of Plaquemines Parish's economy depends on the oil industry, and expects this boost to add jobs.

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