By KEVIN CHIRI
COVINGTON – Listening to Dr. Loren Scott tell the most intricate details of the worldwide oil and gas business during his guest appearance at the St. Tammany West Chamber luncheon made it quite clear the man is an expert on the subject.
Scott explained information on the oil industry the average business person would never know much about as he spoke for 30 minutes on the state of the Louisiana economy, which is greatly affected by the price of oil. The luncheon was sponsored by P&N Postlewaite & Netterville.
In St. Tammany Parish, while most residents are happy to see gas prices at record lows, a local connection to the oil industry surfaced over a year ago when Helis Oil & Gas announced they had plans to drill a “fracking” well near Abita Springs. Concerns were immediately raised by public officials as well as watchdog groups because that method of drilling for oil was suggested as a threat to the underground acquifer water well that serves all of St. Tammany.
When Scott was asked about fracking in St. Tammany Parish, and whether it could be a threat to the water supply here, the Professor Emeritus at LSU practically scoffed.
“The chances of your water having a problem because of a fracking well are virtually non-existent,” he said. “The EPA has no problem with fracking, the Obama administration has no problem with fracking, and if those agencies aren’t concerned about it, then you can be sure it is a safe way to drill for oil.”
Scott said there are already hundreds of fracking wells operating throughout Louisiana and hundreds more around the country, and he said there has never been one instance of a water supply being compromised.
“Not only has there never been a problem that I am aware of, but there have been studies done to look into the possibility of problems and to my knowledge there is not one study that says fracking can create a problem for an underground water supply,” he said.
Scott went on to say that it is the emergence of hundreds of smaller, fracking wells in the country that are playing a key role in the drop of oil prices in the United States.
As one of the premier Louisiana economists who particularly specializes in the details of the oil and gas industry worldwide, Scott said the slow increase in domestic drilling for the U.S. has been a reason we are now seeing such low gas prices.
Scott pointed to one key statistic that proved his contention: In 2001 the United States imported approximately 50 percent of its oil from around the world, and in 2013 that number was down to only 32.7 percent.
“U.S. oil production is up 85 percent since 2008, it is the sharpest increase of oil production by any country in the world during that time,” he pointed out.