After reading the opinion article by Steve Scalise and this newspaper's editorial, I am once again reminded of how the media and the industry work together to conflate Louisiana oil and gas with federal oil and gas.
The distinction is important considering that Louisiana oil, onshore and state waters including the three-mile limit in the Gulf of Mexico, and federal oil and gas, in the Gulf beyond the three-mile limit, are two very different cases.
Louisiana has no control over federal production and the state does not receive lease bonuses, royalties or any form of direct revenue. What Louisiana does have is control over its state oil and gas production. Once the media starts reporting on the two as separate issues, there are two challenges that become obvious.
Louisiana oil has been in decline for over two decades and at the current rate of annual decline would reach theoretical zero in ten years. This is not a problem with the price of oil, it is the fact that Louisiana is running out of oil. Geology is destiny. Although options will be limited on how to manage the decline of oil, the greater challenge is in fact how to safeguard Louisiana natural gas production.
The Haynesville Shale and other gas-producing regions of the state are the future of the state oil and gas industry. Louisiana can be a major player in natural gas, LNG export and the chemical industry for decades to come but only if the state and the industry get clear-eyed about how that can happen and take substantive steps to monitor and reduce methane emissions.
There are additional options to ensure long-term demand for natural gas that can be leveraged with federal dollars. I do not expect the industry, the media or elected officials to stop pushing back on federal energy policy but if we do not address state oil and gas, we will regret it for generations to come.