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Oil industry plunges to historic low

Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 00:03:26-04

With businesses shut down and stay-at-home orders in place, the price of oil plunged to a historic low on Monday.

This hit to Louisiana's oil and gas industry comes as today marks 10 years after the Deepwater Horizon. Oil prices are lower than they've ever been, dropping below zero Monday.

Industry experts say a lot of tough decisions will need to be made to get through this crisis.

KATC has not received word of any immediate layoffs with this news, but Gifford Briggs, the president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association believes the industry will contract amid the coronavirus. Briggs said layoffs are likely for many companies to stay afloat.

"This is an absolute disaster for the oil and gas industry. One that we have been heading towards in the past weeks as we've seen global demand for oil decimated to the tune of 30 million barrels per day. As the economy of the world is shut down, this is just unprecedented times," Briggs said.

He's hopeful the industry will see some immediate relief and the economy will get moving. Briggs said there are very few industries that can withstand a drastic decrease in their product over a few months.

"Hopefully the PPP program can provide a lifeline to some companies to withstand the challenges we're facing, but for many companies it won't be enough and for many people it won't be enough. Companies will have to make tough decisions to weather the storm," said Briggs.

Gregg Gothreaux, President and CEO of LEDA said this hit to the oil industry will have major impacts on Acadiana. Though our economy has diversified from 70% oil and gas in the 80's to 30% today, energy will always play a big role.

"We have a great base with energy, technology, medical and entertainment. Obviously, all of those are being slammed one way or another," Gothreaux said.

Briggs said, "These are tough times for industry. We're resilient, we're strong and we want to be part of the recovery. If we can get the life support we need now, we'll be able to help the rest of Louisiana out of these very tough times."

LEDA stresses oil and gas needs to rebound, but Lafayette Parish needs to continue to diversify its economy. The Parish is courting several manufacturing companies, but LEDA did not get into specifics on which companies or how many potential jobs could be created.

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