Louisiana’s strategic importance to the U.S. a major theme of LOGA luncheon
In his keynote address at Thursday’s LOGA’s “State of the Industry” luncheon in New Orleans, Briggs was particularly critical of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). Although both federal officials have expressed support for increased production in the Gulf Coast, these statements do not square with their actions, Briggs told audience members.
“They talk about wanting to help [the domestic oil and gas industry], but it’s like watching a magician who is doing one thing with his hands but the action is really somewhere else.”
When Salazar and Bromwich last visited Louisiana, members of the state’s congressional delegation invited Briggs to meet with them. But, he declined. “Been there done that,” said Briggs.
“They tell you one thing and they do another. We give them too much attention and way too much credit because they do not want us to go back to work.”
LOGA’s luncheon, with approximately 40 attendees, coincided with the one-year anniversary of the British Petroleum explosion in the Gulf that resulted in the death of 11 workers and spilled an estimated five million barrels of crude oil. While BP clearly made costly mistakes, there is a large body of evidence that shows the industry as a whole is very responsible and innovative, Briggs said. There are about 40,000 wells in the Gulf, and deepwater drilling has taken place safely and effectively in 1298 wells, he pointed out.
Industry workers on rigs who use joysticks to control robots in the deep water are performing a task that is the equivalent of “going to the moon every day.” Even so, he argued, a change in administration is needed before the region can fully recover economically.
Looking ahead over the long-term, oil and natural gas are not going away and this reality puts the state in a strong strategic position, especially if the right mix of polices are in place, he continued.
“Louisiana is the Aorta of America,” Briggs said. “When we shut down our refineries this means 60 to 70 percent of the fuel that runs this country gets shut down… We will become even more important to this country’s national security and infrastructure over time.”
Unfortunately, for the moment, investors are reluctant to re-enter the Gulf, Briggs lamented. Prior to the BP spill, there were 61 rigs in the entire Gulf and now there are only 26. Where there used to be almost six new deep water permit applications per month, there is now only one, he added. Shallow water permits are also down from about seven to under five, he said.
“You have to understand one thing,” Briggs continued. “If [the administration officials] wanted us to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, we would be drilling.”
The Obama Administration’s actions have created an “unprecedented uncertainty” in the Gulf of Mexico both for small independent companies and for major oil companies, Briggs observed.
He also said that policymakers should carefully consider the real value of renewable efforts, which tend to be very expensive. While it may be fine to have some solar and wind, “they are not going to be the driving fuel of the future,” Briggs said. “Ethanol is the joke of jokes.”