Shallow water drilling rigs are stacked at the Port of Iberia in 2015. The downturn in world oil prices from 2014 to 2016 took a toll on Louisiana's waterway and shipyard industries, a report from two industry organizations says.


Louisiana's waterway and shipyard industries suffered through the downturn in world oil prices with a direct and indirect loss of 21,500 jobs, $1.4 billion in wages and $5.3 billion in economic impact to the state from 2014 to 2016, a report from two major industry groups shows.

The study looked at the economic contributions from the tug, offshore service and shipyard industries through a survey of the members of the Offshore Marine Service Association and Louisiana Association of Waterway Operators and Shipyards.

With the Legislature now in session to tackle a $1 billion budget shortfall, the report also outlined various tax provisions that benefit maritime industries. It said several companies surveyed indicated that one or more tax provisions were influential in their operations and capital investment decisions. Some have considered alternative locations such as Texas, which has a similar tax climate, and are prepared to move certain operations there if conditions in Louisiana were to change, the report said.

The industry itself dropped by 8,000 jobs over the two-year period to 29,500 from 37,500. 

Total employment, counting those jobs and indirect and other jobs related to the industry,  dropped to 83,300 from 104,800. Overall wages slipped to $5.5 billion from $6.9 billion, according to the report released Tuesday by  The economic impact to Louisiana fell to $20.9 billion from $26.2 billion.

The study, conducted by Stephen Barnes and Dek Terrell from LSU’s Economics and Policy Research Group, covered employee bases, expenditures and capital investments from both 2014 and 2016, the years immediately before and after oil prices fell.

Prices have rebounded since then from the $30 range hit in 2015, but the current $60 range is still well below the more than $100 per barrel prices that preceded the downturn.

The study also noted the number of Louisianians working in the shipbuilding industry have declined in recent years, while competing Gulf Coast states have added jobs in this industry.

A major blow in recent years was the closure of Avondale Shipyards in Jefferson Parish and loss of its 5,000 jobs.

“The offshore and inland marine industries along with the shipyards that build and maintain those vessels help Louisiana businesses across a wide array of industries take advantage of our state’s rich natural resources including the Mississippi River and rich oil and gas resources,” said Barnes, director of LSU’s Economics and Policy Research Group.

“Water transportation and support services are hidden from daily view for many Louisiana residents, but directly employ tens of thousands of workers and helped support more than 100,000 Louisiana jobs at the height of the industry in 2014, not to mention the jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and oil and gas that rely on these industries for supplies and to transport their goods to market.”