Briggs: Oil and gas industries ‘losing the public relations battle’

Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Gifford Briggs. Photo by Don Kadair.

Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Gifford Briggs encouraged LOGA members to become more active on social media and to “tell the industry’s story” at the final leg of the organization’s annual “State of the Industry” tour in Baton Rouge last wee.

“We are losing the public relations battle,” Briggs says. “The other side spends hours sharing their message everywhere they can. We have to hit that head-on. We have an amazing story to tell. I know you don’t do this for the accolades, but we need to tell that story.”

Exemplifying the reason the industry needs to engage, Briggs says, was an incident that occurred at LOGA’s State of the Industry luncheon in New Orleans earlier this month, when some environmental advocates protested the presentation.

“It exaggerates the reason we must engage,” Briggs says of the experience.

The industry as a whole remains “predictably unpredictable,” he says. While touting President Donald Trump’s support of the industry, he accused the state’s tax code and “lawsuit climate” of “killing investment.”

“If oil and gas was a priority to Louisiana, like it is to the president of the United States,” he says, “we wouldn’t be talking about this four years into a term.”

He also criticized the recent $100 million settlement between Freeport McMoRan and coastal parishes, calling it “a political stunt in election season to try and get votes.” He warns many of the details of the settlement terms haven’t been released and the fund the settlement payments will funnel into for coastal restoration hasn’t been created by the legislature yet.

“This is a joke,” Briggs says, adding that many companies will not comment on the litigation climate of the state.

The jury is still out, he says, on whether the Austin Chalk will be a boon for the state. While some companies are still expressing excitement on the potential onshore oil play, other companies, like ConocoPhillips, have expressed disappointing results for the chalk.

The majority of companies exploring the Austin Chalk are still undecided on its future, he says, but there is enough research for the state to know it’s not going to be a major play like the Haynesville Shale or Permian Basin.

While the future of oil in the state may be uncertain, Briggs is optimistic on the future of liquified natural gas in the state. LNG is already shipping from Cheniere Energy and Cameron LNG from southwest Louisiana, while Venture Globals’ Calcasieu Pass facility is under construction and Venture Globals’ Plaquemines facility was recently permitted.

“Louisiana is going to be central to the LNG market as these come online and we ship gas all over the world,” Briggs says.