Louisiana Is in the Oil Business. Here Is How to Transition

oil business

Oil skimmers clean up oil in the Gulf of Mexico (2010). Photo by Ted Jackson/The Times-Picayune

Is Louisiana’s long political acceptance of wetlands destruction, pollution and a seesaw economy controlled by a global commodity really about jobs and making America energy independent — or just about oil and gas company profits?

Is it really economic suicide for this petro-state to support a transition from an industry that is contributing to the sea level rise swamping its bottom third — or is there a viable alternative?

Well, we may soon be getting some answers.

That’s because the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Trump administration, recently released two studies on the potential of offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico that shakes up some long-held beliefs. While it has previously been estimated that offshore wind could provide half of the nation’s annual energy needs, there were serious concerns about the costs of getting there. This report clears those up — and offers hope for Louisiana’s tens of thousands of unemployed offshore energy workers.

Some highlights:

  • A single offshore wind turbine project could support approximately 4,470 jobs and $445 million in GDP during construction and an ongoing 150 jobs and $14 million annually from operations and maintenance in labor, materials, and services.
  • The wind area is large enough to support the commercial development of a utility scale offshore wind power plant and realize economies of scale.
  • Louisiana’s existing offshore oil and gas industrial supply chain means lower costs here than in the Atlantic coast, the North Sea and other areas.
  • If current cost trends observed in Europe and the northeastern United States continue, the economics of offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico over the next decade will approach positive net values — particularly in Texas and Louisiana.
  • These economic cost-benefit projections include estimates for expenses specific to offshore wind in this area such as higher insurance and shutdown periods due to hurricane season, and more expensive structure foundations due to soil types, as well as interest on financing for each project.
  • The highest wind resources are in the western Gulf, which corresponds to the most favorable economics.

It’s hard to think of better news for Louisiana, a state caught in the worst possible climate change squeeze.

Read the rest of the article at The Times-Picayune.

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