Gulf oil and gas industry invests in coastal communities

By Lori LeBlanc, LMOGA Offshore Committee Director for BIC Magazine

Across our Louisiana coast, the offshore oil and gas industry employs tens of thousands of Louisiana workers, supports hundreds of locally owned oilfield service companies, and pays millions in state and local taxes that fund our schools, roads and other public services. While these economic impacts are impressive, they only tell part of the story of the offshore industry’s commitment to this state and our local communities.  

From hurricane recovery and coastal restoration to education and wildlife conservation, the Louisiana oil and gas industry is an active community partner, voluntarily investing in local organizations to strengthen our communities and sustain this unique and precious ecosystem. Why? Because for the thousands of men and women who work in the industry, this is home.

We live, work and play here. Investing in community is investing in the people and the places that help fuel America while building a better world for our children. For this reason, partnerships and philanthropy onshore are just as valuable to Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) member companies as their oil and gas production offshore.

During 2017’s exceptionally busy hurricane season, the industry demonstrated its philanthropic spirit as Gulf producers generously stepped up to help those in need. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, for example, oil and gas companies contributed over $23 million to provide relief and recovery assistance to victims in Louisiana and Texas. Employees of energy companies also volunteered many hours in neighborhoods across the impacted area to help their neighbors clear debris and get started on the work of rebuilding. While Hurricane Harvey may have interrupted Gulf oil and gas production for a short time, it also strengthened Gulf energy’s commitment to community.

Here in South Louisiana, we know our coastal land loss, subsidence and lack of significant hurricane protection in some areas make us more vulnerable each year to catastrophic flood events. Oil and gas companies recognize this, too, and many have made supporting local coastal restoration and education initiatives a priority.

Chevron, for example, has partnered with the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center in Houma, Louisiana, to launch the Coastal Classroom Education Program and educate students in South Louisiana on the challenges of our coast. The Coastal Classroom brings hands-on activities to students from third grade through high school to learn interactively about coastal restoration and the importance of wetlands. This year, 500 students in Terrebonne Parish will participate in the program thanks to Chevron’s support.

South Louisiana is also known for its abundant fisheries and wildlife, and ConocoPhillips is making the protection of threatened species and wildlife habitats a priority in their community investments. The company recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Coastal Louisiana Array Project, which tracks radio-tagged birds throughout South Louisiana’s wetlands. The project is a joint effort by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation, and the Thibodaux-based Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. Thirteen radio tracking stations have already been erected as part of the program to study the movements of several dozen birds, including threatened species, and the ConocoPhillips grant will fund 19 additional tracking stations. For this and its many other coastal initiatives, ConocoPhillips was awarded the Ducks Unlimited Corporate Conservation Achievement Award in June.

Additionally, Phillips 66 funded a grant to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana in 2017 for a major habitat restoration project in Plaquemines Parish. In September, more than 30 employees of the company’s Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse planted 4,500 plugs of marsh grass to improve flood defense along Bayou Dupont.

LMOGA members and Gulf oil and gas producers will continue to be major contributors to Louisiana’s and America’s economy and energy supply. Communities across coastal Louisiana can also be assured the offshore industry remains committed to being a major contributor to the sustainability of this unique and precious region we call home.

Read this on Lori Leblanc, LLC.

Poland signs 5-year US natural gas import deal

via The Hill

Poland’s state-owned oil and natural gas company signed a five-year deal Tuesday to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.

The deal is between Polish Oil and Gas Company Group (PGNiG) and Centrica LNG Co., for shipments between 2018 and 2022, the parties said. The gas will go through Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana.

PGNiG did not disclose the gas volumes or prices.

“This five-year agreement for American LNG deliveries is based on gas market conditions. We look forward to working with Centrica as a partner to continue to provide diversified supply into Poland,” Piotr Wozniak, PGNiG’s CEO, said in a statement.

“We are extremely pleased to have concluded this mid-term contract with PGNiG as part of Centrica’s strategy to build our global LNG portfolio,” said Jonathan Westby, Centrica’s managing director for energy marketing.

The deal comes both as Poland and the rest of eastern Europe work to dramatically reduce their dependence on pipeline-delivered gas from Russia and as the United States works to ramp up its natural gas exports.

Poland opened an LNG receiving terminal on the Baltic Sea last year and is working with companies around the world to sign supply deals.

PGNiG received its first LNG shipment from the United States in June as part of a spot-market deal, shortly before President Trump visited the nation. Trump’s visit was, in part, to promote United States energy exports.

Read this on The Hill.

ExxonMobil invests approximately $340 million in capital projects

Capital investment in 2017 expected to generate more than $30.6 million in sales and use tax
revenue in East and West BatonRouge Parishes.
• ExxonMobil sites hired more than 175 new employees in 2017 to supportlocal investment
• Investment provides tax base to sustain nearly 8 percentof property taxes collected in the parish.

ExxonMobil Baton Rouge capital project investments in 2017 totaled
approximately $340 million and included projects at all five local facilities. These investments
resulted in more than $30.6 million in local sales and use taxes. Projects include competitive
upgrades that help position ExxonMobil Baton Rouge to compete in the worldwide marketplace,
and do not include investments to meet regulatory requirements.

Some of these competitive project investments include:
• Plastics Plant project to improve plant water quality by installing a new unit to processplant water
• Polyolefins Plant projectto create facilities to produce products for high-density polyethylene injection
molding market
• CompetitiveRefinery projectto increase capacity for diverse,raw materials
• Chemical Plant control system modernization upgrade with state-of-the-art computer technology

“We are experiencing a narrow window of increased capital investment opportunity,” said
ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Chemicals Sites Manager Dave Luecke. “With the low cost of natural gas
in the US and the growing demand for plastics and polymers across the world, we are investing
more in new projects along the Gulf Coast. Hopefully, we will be able to bring some of this
increased investment to Baton Rouge.”

“We look to invest where there is a good business environment, predictable tax and regulatory
structure, strong transportation infrastructure and qualified workforce,” said ExxonMobil Chemical
Americas Regional Manufacturing Manager Charles Dabadie. Earlier this year, Louisiana was in
competition for the world’s largest ethylene cracker plant that would have created 600 permanent
new jobs and an additional 11,000 jobs during construction. A site in San Patricio County, TX, was
ultimately selected.

“We want Louisiana to be a strong competitor for future investment that ExxonMobil may be
considering,” Dabadie added.

According to North Baton Rouge Economic Development District Director Rinaldi Jacobs,
“ExxonMobil has a huge impact on our community – especially in North Baton Rouge. ExxonMobil
engages with our local workforce with programs like the North Baton Rouge Industrial Training
Initiative and a recent procurement expo to showcase business opportunities for diverse vendors.”
Over the past three years alone, more than a billion dollars in capital projects has been invested in
Baton Rouge area facilities. This ongoing investment helps retain jobs for more than 6,500 local
employees and contractors. Over the past five years, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge has hired more than
1,000 employees, averaging about 200 new employees annually. The company’s contractor
workforce supports multi-year capital projects and ongoing operations. Each year, about 1,900
long-term contractors provide support to ExxonMobil Baton Rouge area facilities. Hiring is
currently at unprecedented levels to support the Growing the Gulf initiative, ExxonMobil’s 10-year
investment in new Gulf Coast facilities.

“It’s all about quality jobs,” said Eddie Rispone, co-founder and chairman of Baton Rouge-based ISC
Constructors. On average, ISC employs about 300 local crafts persons and supervisors at
ExxonMobil on a permanent, full-time basis. “These hard-working men and women are able to
make a good living and provide for their families. Continued investment by companies like
ExxonMobil is critical to the growth and stability of our local and state economies.” Rispone added.
Over the next 10 years, about $2 billion in property tax payments will roll back onto parish tax
books from the previous decade’s increased investment. This will result in more than $105 million in
in total taxes with $49.4 million going to the school system, $38.9 million to the Parish, and $16.8
million to the Sheriff’s Department.

Over the past five years, ExxonMobil paid nearly $200 million in taxes to East Baton Rouge Parish,
which translates to about 7.8 percent of the total property tax in the parish and 9 percent of the
revenue for the school system, city and sheriff’s department.

Cenac Marine barge to help train students

via Houma Today

Houma-based Cenac Marine has donated a refurbished oil and gas tank barge to South Louisiana Community College for training students.

“This is a joint venture with the state to allow better training and hands-on practical experience of a working 30,000-barrel tank barge,” said Benny Cenac, CEO of Cenac Marine Services. “This is a benefit for our industry. Not just Cenac Marine, but for the entire Gulf Coast area to have a place locally to train deckhands.”

This donation at a Nov. 14 ceremony is another major step in the partnership between Lafayette-based South Louisiana Community College and Cenac Marine. The company has also set up simulators in Morgan City for educational training and it is working on doing the same in Houma.

Natalie Harder, chancellor of South Louisiana Community College, said the college and the maritime industry is fortunate to have Cenac and his company to help further education in south Louisiana.

“With how embedded maritime is in this region and how important it is, the fact that there are visionaries like Mr. Cenac who can see how it is through working together we can make everyone greater. People who are trained on this barge won’t just come to work here, but it’s all about the community and keeping this industry alive. … They’ll go to work throughout the industry,” Harder said.

The economic benefits of having this training tool are also vital. According to Matt Rookard, CEO of the Terrebonne Economic Development Authority, having these training partnerships and equipment in place will help in attracting more companies to the area.

“The No. 1 thing that comes up in meetings with companies that want to move down here is workforce development. Before costs before tax structure, it’s workforce development. The reason is simple. You can have the lowest costs in the world, but if you can’t get the people to do the job, then it doesn’t matter,” Rookard said.

The 158-foot by 40-foot training vessel replicates a standard Cenac Marine Services tank barge and will be used for the school’s training of the next generation of maritime industry workers and leaders. The barge will be located at Munson Slip in Houma where South Louisiana Community College tankerman training will take place.

Read this on Houma Today.

Parts of multi-billion dollar Shell Oil project being constructed in Port of Iberia

Shell Oil is in the process of conducting one of its largest projects across the globe and a big part of that project was completed right here in Acadiana.

Dynamic Industries, a fabrication company operating in the Port of Iberia, has recently been building large modules for the past two years as part of a larger Shell Oil project.

“It’s part of Shell Oil’s Appomattox project, the largest project on earth for Shell Oil and it’s about a 17 billion dollar project,” says Craig Romero, Port Director.

It’s important for major jobs, such as these, to have a home in the Port of Iberia and Acadiana.

“We’re proud for the Port of Iberia to play such an important role in delivering this project,” says Romero.

These modules have been loaded onto a barge and will be brought to Texas to be connected to a hull, so that it can be made operational in the Gulf of Mexico.

Winning bids on projects such as these help to boost the local economy, especially when it comes to the Oil & Gas industry.

“People from all over Acadiana have sold supplies–people from all over Acadiana have worked here,” adds Romero.

State Representative for the district, Blake Miguez, says the state and its citizens have been hit hard by the downturn in the Oil and Gas industry.

He hopes bringing in major projects like this starts to turn things around.

“They just want to go back to work, they just want to feed their families,” says Miguez.

Both Miguez and Romero credit state infrastructure improvements for recent job bidding success and hope that the economy will soon turn around.

“I always tell people–tough times never last, but tough people do and the people of Louisiana are very tough,” says Miguez.

Read this on KLFY.

Committee Passes Bipartisan SECURE American Energy Act

Today, the House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 4239, the “Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand American Energy Act” or “SECURE American Energy Act.” The bipartisan SECURE American Energy Act – sponsored by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Vicente González (D-TX) – overhauls federal lands energy policy to promote expanded exploration, development, and production of oil, gas and wind resources.

The SECURE American Energy Act will create good jobs in communities all across our country, empowers states and optimizes onshore resource management, and raises revenue-sharing caps that dedicate critical funds to Louisiana’s coastal restoration. This bipartisan bill is good for jobs and good for Louisiana. I’m proud that it passed out of the Natural Resources Committee today, and look forward to passing it through the House with a strong vote and getting it on President Trump’s desk so he can sign it into law,” Whip Scalise said.

“After months of stakeholder input, Committee oversight and multiple legislative drafts, we have a comprehensive bipartisan upstream energy bill to bring to the House floor. These onshore and offshore provisions provide certainty and access to spur investment and job creation through the development of federal lands. With this legislation, we can unlock our vast energy potential, advance American energy dominance and generate revenues at all levels of government. I thank Whip Scalise for his continued leadership and the contributions of members, including Reps. Cuellar and González, in developing this bipartisan legislation,” Chairman Bishop said.

It is encouraging to see legislators from both parties come together to craft policy that would stimulate responsible energy production and add more good paying jobs to our economy – the SECURE American Energy Act proves that this is possible,” Rep. González said. “Job creation, economic growth, and responsible energy production are things we can all agree on. I am pleased to see the bill favorably reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources and look forward to working with Majority Whip Scalise and Chairman Bishop to pass the bill when it comes up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Read this on the House Committee on Natural Resources website.

New Conservation Partnership Launches in Louisiana with the Release of 12 Endangered Whooping Cranes into the Wild

A group of 12 juvenile whooping cranes were released into the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ (LDWF) Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday (Nov. 14) in Grand Chenier as part of an ongoing effort to protect the species from extinction. The juvenile cranes join 49 other whooping cranes that are a part of an experimental population being monitored by LDWF.

Supported by generous donors like Chevron, LDWF and Audubon Nature Institute have been longtime leaders in whooping crane conservation and recently expanded their partnership with the goal of developing a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in Louisiana.  This partnership is an example of state agencies, non-profit organizations and private industry collaborating to leverage their strengths to achieve measurable conservation results and make a significant, historic impact on the future of this endangered species.

Of the 12 cranes, seven were reared at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, two were raised at Calgary Zoo in Canada and three were hatched from eggs collected from the wild in Wisconsin and reared at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans. All 12 cranes were brought to the Species Survival Center where they formed a “cohort,” the scientific term for a small group of cranes assembled to live and migrate together.

“The goal of a cohort is to socialize the animals together so they will thrive as a group in the wild. The young chicks are released without parents so the cohort will create a family for the birds to increase their chances of survival,” said Richard Dunn, Assistant Curator at the Species Survival Center.

These 12 cranes joined 11 juvenile whooping cranes from the International Crane Foundation which were released on November 9 on the nearby White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area (WLWCA).  The addition of these 23 cranes increases the flock to 72 whooping cranes living in the wild in Louisiana. Support of partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, International Crane Foundation, and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation have allowed LDWF and Audubon to expand their efforts in Louisiana.

Since 2011, Chevron has invested in LDWF’s Whooping Crane Reintroduction Project. In addition to continuing its contributions to LDWF, the company also awarded Audubon a grant to help fund improvements to the Species Survival Center’s whooping crane breeding pens. Chevron not only contributed financially to the initiative; their employees have also given volunteer hours to help construct the enhanced whooping crane enclosures.

“At Chevron, we recognize the importance of protecting ecological diversity – the rich variety of wildlife on Earth, its ecosystems and species, and the ecological processes that support them,” said Leah Brown, Public Affairs Manager for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “We’re proud to continue our long-standing collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Audubon Nature Institute on whooping crane restoration and repopulation.  Through awareness programs, educational efforts and volunteerism, we’re working to make ensure this endangered species is thriving for generations to come.”

The Louisiana flock was developed in 2011 when 10 whooping cranes from the U. S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Facility in Maryland were released to WLWCA in Vermilion Parish to develop the non-migratory flock. This marked a significant conservation milestone with the first wild whooping cranes in Louisiana since 1950. In 2016, the first chick hatched in the wild in Louisiana since 1939—a significant sign of recovery for the species.

“We continue on the path to establishing a self-sustained whooping crane population in Louisiana so this magnificent bird can thrive for generations to come,’’ LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet said. “We’ve made so many advances in our whooping crane program, including the first wild-hatched whooping crane in Louisiana in 2016. The arrival of this cohort is another important step in the restoration process. We are blessed to have many partners, including private landowners who have assisted us by working with our staff when the cranes roost on their property. We thank them for their help.’’

In early 2017, Audubon was asked to significantly increase the number of crane chicks raised at the rearing facility to supplement the migratory populations and the non-migratory whooping crane population in Louisiana. As one of only three whooping crane breeding facilities in the US, support of project partners is vital to the long-term success of the whooping crane population in Louisiana.

“The whooping crane is one of the species included in Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) program, which focuses the collective expertise within accredited zoos and aquariums and leverages their massive audiences to save species,” said Kyle Burks, Vice President & Managing of Audubon Zoo.  “With continued support, we can leverage the expansion of the crane breeding program into long-term growth of the population and share what we learn with other whooping crane programs.”

Anyone encountering a whooping crane is advised to observe the bird from a distance and to report the sighting to LDWF ( Whooping cranes are large-bodied, white birds with a red head and black facial markings along. Birds measure a height of five feet and a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet that makes them very distinctive. In flight, whooping cranes display black wing tips, a fully extended neck, and legs which extend well beyond the tail.

Anyone witnessing suspicious activity involving whooping cranes is advised to call the LDWF’s Enforcement Division at 1-800-442-2511 or use the tip411 program, which may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests or convictions. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge. Citizen Observer, the tip411 provider, uses technology that removes all identifying information before LDWF receives the text so that LDWF cannot identify the sender.

Read this on Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries.

New marine transport firm in partnership with New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf to transport LNG under contract with Shell

via The New Orleans Advocate

A new marine transportation company in partnership with New Orleans-based Harvey Gulf International Marine will transport liquefied natural gas as a fuel source to ports in Florida and the Caribbean under a long-term deal with Shell Trading, a unit of the oil company.

Harvey Gulf’s CEO, Shane Guidry, will own 70 percent of the new company, called Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport LLC. Harvey Gulf will own the remaining 30 percent.

Q-LNG has contracted with Mississippi-based VT Halter Marine to build a 4,000-cubic-meter liquefied natural gas articulating tug barge, which will be designed for ship-to-ship and shore-side resupply transfers.

“While the downturn in the oil and gas market has hurt all vessel operators, our continued partnership with Shell displays the confidence entrusted in our team, which is extremely appreciated and very rewarding,” Guidry said in a statement.

Founded in 1955, Harvey Gulf is a marine transportation company that provides offshore supply, crew and multi-purpose construction and support vessels for Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling operations.

Read this on The New Orleans Advocate.

Chevron Leadership Academy Prepares Students for Life after College

The Chevron Leadership Academy recently held its first workshop.

Twenty-four LSU Engineering students were selected to participate in the year-long program, which aims to maintain and strengthen leadership skills through workshops, seminars and mentorships.

During the event, a panel of Chevron representatives, LSU Engineering faculty and industry professionals answered questions about safety, mentoring, conflict, failures and challenges faced in their careers.

Barry Guillory, an instructor and undergraduate coordinator in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, spoke about safety being the number-one priority for all engineering facilities.

“Study things that have happened and how to avoid them,” Guillory said. “You can also study things that could happen in the future. I can’t emphasize how important an engineer’s role is to make safety happen.”

Gregory Washington, extrusion supervisor at Intralox, said one of the major challenges he faced early in his career was the fear of failure.

“Later on, I found the more I failed, the more I learned from those [experiences],” he said.

Additionally, Madeline Commander, a civil engineer at Command Construction, discussed the difficulty of transitioning from college to the workforce. The LSU alumna said there are leadership opportunities available if the individual shows initiative and enthusiasm for his or her job.

Senior mechanical engineering major Macie Coker decided to participate in the program after witnessing how inspiring the process was for a friend. The Chalmette native felt encouraged to take on more leadership roles.

“I am incredibly blessed and thankful to be here.” Coker said. “It is an honor to have been selected for the [Leadership Academy].”

Elizabeth Melvin, director of academic affairs for the College of Engineering, said she hopes this program lays the foundation for students and helps propel their careers.

“I don’t want to send students into the workforce thinking they have this degree and they are going to be good,” Melvin said. “You need to learn how to work on teams and inspire others.”

The Leadership Academy is just one of the resources available through the college’s Chevron Center, which is funded by a donation from the Chevron Corporation. It also helps students successfully navigate the LSU Communication Across the Curriculum program and assists them with mapping out their study abroad options.

“This is a premier program and (chance) to do something that you won’t get to do anywhere else,” said Craig Harvey, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering. “Take advantage of this rare opportunity.”

Filing lawsuits not a solution to coastal erosion

via American Press

Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states need to find constructive ways to mitigate the coastal erosion problems, but a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court indicates that filing lawsuits against the oil and gas industry may not be a viable way to solve this problem.

On Oct. 30, the Supreme Court refused to revive a Louisiana flood protection board’s lawsuit seeking to make oil, gas and pipeline companies pay for decades of damage to coastal wetlands.

The suit was filed by the Southwest Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. The suit claimed that the industry’s dredging of canals in coastal drilling areas contributed to the loss of wetlands that form a hurricane buffer for New Orleans.

Federal courts, however, blocked the suit. A federal district judge in New Orleans in 2015 ruled that federal and state law provided no avenue by which the board could bring the suit. Then the appeals court in New Orleans agreed with the lower court, which led to the Supreme Court ruling.

Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, had this response to the ruling: “It’s three strikes and you’re out! The SLFPA-E lawsuit was dismissed in a U.S. District Court, refused by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. These and similar frivolous lawsuits against oil and gas companies are destroying Louisiana’s competitiveness to attract future investment. We are thankful for the Supreme Court’s ruling and will continue to hold true to our convictions, fighting to ensure that the oil and gas industry remains a cornerstone of Louisiana’s culture.”

The oil and gas industry has been a bedrock part of the Louisiana economy for over a century, and has brought prosperity to many Louisiana families. Oil and gas production is also vital to the whole nation.

But Louisiana and other coastal states also need help with mitigating the coastal erosion problem, and since the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked this avenue of funding, it should be up to the federal government to live up its responsibility to provide the funding needed to restore the coastal parishes.