Lafourche Parish leaders tout Port Fourchon’s advantages to energy executives lobbying for more offshore drilling

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 8:22 AM CDT
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PORT FOURCHON, La. (WVUE) - Lafourche Parish leaders on Monday (Oct. 17) hosted the head of the American Petroleum Institute, giving him a tour of Port Fourchon, touting the port’s strategic advantages and presenting united support for expanded drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

During a roundtable, API president and CEO Mike Sommers met with local and state leaders to discuss Port Fourchon, the future of the oil and gas industry in Louisiana, and the API’s lobbying efforts in support of a five-year federal lease plan that would allow more drilling in the Gulf.

“We need to get this five-year leasing plan in place as quickly as possible,” Sommers said, “because Americans deserve lower energy costs at the pump.

“The barrels that come from offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico are the cleanest barrels in the world. They’re 53 percent cleaner than the average barrel in the world. It’s because of their focus on environmental protection that we need to continue to develop the Gulf of Mexico.”

President Biden’s administration just concluded the comment period for the proposed five-year plan, which could allow for up to 11 new offshore lease sales between 2023-28.

As the administration weighs how many lease sales will be allowed, Lafourche leaders are hoping for an expanded offshore drilling industry.

“Louisiana is the heartbeat of America,” said Republican state Sen. Mike Fesi, founder and owner of Houma-based Pipeline Construction & Maintenance, Inc. “And with the challenges that we’ve been facing lately, it’s really showing up and hitting people in the pocketbooks and really challenging everyone out trying to make a living.

“We just got to get jobs back and get things going in the right direction, because the world needs energy. We can’t just cut oil and gas off, because we live in a plastic world.”

Lafourche Parish president Archie Chaisson said expanded Gulf drilling would be a boon to the residents of Port Fouchon.

“One of our top employers is the oil and gas industry,” Chaisson said. “All we talk about is the offsets. All we talk about is the energy transition. But, at the end of the day, we still need petroleum products. The majority of our residents here in Lafourche Parish wake up every day, put on their hard hats and work offshore.”

Chaisson said Lafourche still is feeling the effects of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall at Port Fourchon on Aug. 29, 2021. He said thousands of residents are feeling the pain from the state’s ongoing insurance crisis, and there are still people living without permanent housing.

“We still have about 3,000 people in temporary housing, that we work every day to either get back into their own home or get into a rental property or some other place, to get them back in a stable environment and out of FEMA campers,” Chaisson said.

Port Fourchon, he said, was back up and running within days after the storm. Chaisson said he hoped during this visit to show off the resiliency of the people of Lafourche Parish.

“I have never been prouder than in the days after the storm, to wake up and see our community really rally around ourselves,” he said. “How we helped our neighbors and we didn’t wait on anybody to come fix it. We fixed it ourselves, and I think that’s why we’ve managed to come such a long way.”

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