Louisiana oil and gas leaders see industry turnaround in Trump

The oil and gas industry may realize more support from a Trump administration than it did under the Obama administration, but The Advertiser reports that expert onlookers suggest Louisiana and the nation are nowhere near a “drill, baby, drill” moment.

“The biggest issue or opportunity is on the regulatory side of things,” Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, tells the Lafayette newspaper. “Trump will roll back regulations. Oil and gas will look forward to having those conversations.”

Although the president-elect has revealed broad support for a robust energy industry, he has not revealed energy agenda specifics. David Dismukes, director of the LSU Center for Energy Studies, expects some policies to change under Trump and others to remain the same.

The industry has struggled with low commodity prices for two years, since crude oil prices plunged from more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to as low as $26 a barrel early this year. But prices, Dismukes notes, are determined by the global market, and the price “trajectory won’t change” just because of the election. However, Dismukes does predict that “There will be a screeching halt on regulations, particularly at the EPA,” under Trump.

That doesn’t mean the incoming president will roll back every federal mandate imposed by the Obama administration, but it appears he won’t add new ones. And he may put a halt to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by President Barack Obama in 2015 and is now under siege in the federal courts, Dismukes says. That plan may end under Trump even before the courts can issue an opinion.

Briggs says the new administration may also be friendlier to opening up the offshore Eastern District in the Gulf of Mexico for more development, something that would help oil and gas service companies around south Louisiana.

The surest ways Trump could boost the Louisiana energy industry would be to open up the Gulf and exploration to development and to reduce corporate tax rates, something that would enable the industry to produce energy cheaper.

Dismukes says Trump’s support for coal may be tested when his first federal budget rolls out in the spring. There may be little money for price supports. He says clean-burning natural gas usually is the beneficiary when coal suffers setbacks, adding Louisiana has been the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States.

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