A lot can happen in five years. In April 2010, the people of south Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast suffered through the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon incident, including the tragic loss of 11 lives.

Louisiana’s relationship with the oil and gas industry goes back more than 100 years. Companies have explored the waters of the Gulf of Mexico since the 1950s. In that time, the people of Louisiana emerged as the most knowledgeable and accomplished professionals in the industry. Today, many residents of Terrebonne Parish work directly in the oil and gas industry at significant wage rates.

These careers are centerpieces to the quality of life that we enjoy here. It is a relationship that has helped keep unemployment low and the parish growing.

Five years ago, we endured and thrived at the center of the largest oil spill response effort in history. We did this in partnership with the state, the federal government and BP. At the same time, we weathered a federally mandated moratorium that threatened our way of life. We spoke up and out as a people, and we were heard. Today, the oil and gas industry in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico is different. It’s stronger and safer.

In spite of today’s low-cost oil price environment, the industry continues to invest in our people and communities along with the hundreds of small and midsized businesses headquartered in Terrebonne Parish that provide services and expertise to the industry and contribute millions more to our parish economy.

BP, in particular, continues to invest in business operations here in addition to the investments and claims paid in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident. They worked with Fletcher Technical Community College to build an Integrated Production Technologies Facility and develop a science and safety-based curriculum to prepare tomorrow’s offshore engineers for high-paying careers. The company has also created a world-class Learning Center in Houma to train offshore workers in new safety protocols and production techniques. These investments have strengthened Terrebonne Parish.

The Deepwater Horizon incident was a tragedy. Out of that tragedy emerged resiliency among our people, more intensive commitments to safety within our oil and gas industry and new opportunities for our local and state economies.

We will have challenges in the future, but Terrebonne Parish and the oil industry are better prepared to handle those challenges by working together.

Michel H. Claudet

Terrebonne Parish president