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Louisiana energy headlines for Jan. 25

Bonnet Carre Spillway to close Feb. 2

Gates on the Bonnet Carre  spillway could be completely closed by Feb. 2, reports the Advocate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the spillway Jan. 10, only the 11th time it’s been in operation since completion in 1927 after a flood devastated the area.

The spillway is used to divert water from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain to relieve stress from high water on downriver levees. The spillway was opened January 10 after heavy rain caused the river to reach its highest levels since 2011.

louisiana spillway

Bonnet Carre spillway releasing water in 2011. Photo courtesy U.S Army Corps of Engineers.

Comstock Resources, Inc. adds to Haynesville inventory

Comstock announced today it has increased its Haynesville Shale drilling territory, according to a company press release. Comstock will increase acreage in DeSoto Parish while divesting acreage in Atascosa County, Texas.

“We continue to search for ways to increase shareholder value during the current market downturn”, stated M. Jay Allison, Comstock’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.  “This transaction shows our confidence in the new Haynesville drilling program and our ability to create value even in this low oil and gas price environment.”

The Haynesville Shale has been affected significantly by low prices coupled by high inventories in natural gas. According to a Jan. 6 report in the Shreveport Times, low oil prices have also been a factor in the states weakening oil and gas industry.

Louisiana gas prices continue to fall

KNOE News reported that the average retail prices have fallen 4.4 cents in the past week. Following similar trends in the rest of the country, retail gas prices have steadily decreased week after week, hitting an average of $1.63 per gallon in Louisiana yesterday, 22.6 cents lower than a year ago today and 13.9 cents below the price a month ago. The Shreveport Times reported prices in northwest Louisiana dropped below $1.50 per gallon on Friday, with gas in Kenner hitting $1.43. With the price of oil dropping back below $30, the prices of gas is likely to keep slipping.

Oil crash prompts special legislative session

While Texas and North Dakota seem to top headlines in discussions about oil, the economic impact on Louisiana is critical, according to an announcement January 19 by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Despite a welcome break in the price at the pump, tax revenue is low, too, creating a negative impact on Louisiana’s budget. A three week special session to address the $760 million shortfall for the current year and a shortfall of up to $1.9 billion for FY 2017 are partly due to the price of oil.

“This is not the budget plan I want to bring in my second week in office, but these problems are bigger than our state has ever seen,” Edwards said. “The challenge before us is one we must address collaboratively and comprehensively in order for our state to prosper again. The sharp drop in oil prices, while significant, only contributes to a fraction of the problem our state faces.  What I offer is a responsible plan to stabilize our state’s budget shortfall and minimize severe cuts in the next three months that would deeply hurt our citizens, hospitals, public schools and universities.”

Gov. Edwards proposes using the state’s Rainy Day Fun, redirecting portions of BP oil spill payments, and cutting at least 10 percent in discretionary state funds to help solve the budget problem. You can read the governor’s entire budget proposal plan here.

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