Louisiana leaders lament canceled oil lease sale on March 17

Updated: Mar. 17, 2021 at 4:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Wednesday was supposed to be one of the biggest days of the year for the offshore oil industry. But the Biden administration’s ban on offshore oil leases canceled a lease sale that could’ve generated millions of dollars.

This was supposed to be the day that the Bureau of Energy was going to bid out leases on 78,000,000 acres of ocean bottom off the Louisiana coast, but the Biden administration has canceled new offshore leases.

“You are looking at something beyond a two-year delay before there’s actually any volume decline from what’s anticipated coming out of the gulf,” said Eric Smith, with the Tulane Energy Institute

Leaders in coastal parishes like Lafourche, who would be impacted the most, worry.

“The major sector in Lafourche, 5600 residents who work in exploration, 4100 work in oil service and 4100 and shipbuilding,” said Lafourche parish president Archie Chaisson. He says the oil industry is now producing jobs with an average wage of $82,000 a year, that could be lost if the moratorium remains in place.

“What would’ve happened today in the Superdome would’ve generated 200 and $400 million in revenue with a portion going to Louisiana for coastal restoration projects,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La).

Gas prices are on the way up and have increased nearly $.40 a gallon over the past year and Eric Smith says it’s likely to go higher.

“For the first part I will tell everybody not to panic and not to drive up gasoline prices at the pump,” said Smith.

Though the Biden administration says it’s important to reduce greenhouse gases to ease global warming,

Congressman Scalise worries that the offshore lease moratorium could become permanent.

“I’m very concerned this will be permanent because Biden people are pushing him,” said Scalise.

Scalise says that will cost Louisiana jobs and millions of dollars in coastal restoration, but supporters of the moratorium say it’s an opportunity to begin scaling up other industries involving renewable resources.

The head of Louisiana’s midcontinent oil and gas association today said that resending the lease sale will have devastating consequences on the only consistent source of funding for Louisiana’s coastal conservation program.

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