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.