Heliport closure latest hit in La. oilpatch as hundreds of jobs are cut

Updated: Aug. 14, 2020 at 2:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Around 200 jobs will be lost soon in Lafourche Parish as the oil and gas industry continues to scale back. Bristow Helicopters is shutting down its Galliano facility sometime in the next 2.5 months.

Helicopters come and go from Bristow’s heliport in Galliano but the pace is far different from what it once was.

A spokesman for Bristow says around 200 jobs will be lost by November and Lafourche Parish officials are concerned.

“I think it’s another sign of the times as to how hard hit the oil industry has been,” said parish president Archie Chaisson, III.

Bristow has plenty of company.

Industry experts say as much as 25 percent of the Louisiana oil-related workforce has been shut down, as oil prices plummeted.

“We got to a point where overall demand dropped dramatically, over 50% by some estimates,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La).

Galliano businesses worry about what may lie ahead.

“We are going to lose the influx of people who stop and buy gas and go to the restaurants,” said Chaisson, who also says the parish will lose property tax revenue.

Though the closure of this facility will hurt, the Lafourche Parish president says things could be worse.

Bristow says it will continue to operate a search and rescue operation for emergencies at its Galliano facility, keeping a small presence here.

“It’s not going to get run down they will keep infrastructure there in case they ever have to come back,” Chaisson said.

Parish officials also say Chevron recently expanded its operations at the Galliano airport and offshore helicopter traffic will continue, though at a reduced pace.

“We still have a great offshore helicopter facility here and we will keep working with Bristow,” Chaisson said.

Congressman Steve Scalise says there are efforts underway to try and get the oil industry back on track.

“We got some relief on royalty payment so we’re trying to do more there,” Scalise said.

Though he’s seen dozens of friends get laid off, shipyard worker Russell Black has hope.

“I think it’s gonna pick up pretty soon,” he said.

But with the coronavirus’s impact on travel and fuel use, an oilpatch comeback is difficult to predict.

A Bristow heliport in New Iberia is also cutting employees, during the oil industry slowdown.

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