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BRIGGS TO STEP AWAY AS OIL CONTINUES TO SLOWLY TRUDGE FORWARD

After more than 25 years as the President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Don Briggs has decided it’s time to welcome a little new blood into the fold.

The longtime oil executive announced in mid-January that he will slowly step away from his post – a transition which will take place gradually over the next several weeks as Vice President Gifford Briggs slowly ascends to the presidency.

In a perfect world, Briggs would settle into retirement and would maybe do a little more hunting or fishing.

Instead, he will now work as President Emeritus – something he said that drives him because of the number of people throughout the state who are still out of work as the industry recovers.

Getting those people their livelihood back, he said, is his biggest motivation in this transition period.

“I meet with individuals that are very unhappy, distraught, depressed and without hope in them,” Briggs said. “We need to put people back to work in south Louisiana and it’s not happening.”

For Briggs, the process of stepping away was hard, but he said this is the right time to make the move.

Oil prices locally have been about as steady as they’ve been in the past two years – slowly creeping upward above $60/barrel – even peaking at $66/barrel in late-January and early February.

Those prices are a little more sustainable for growth and development, which is why Briggs thought it’d be a good time to show Gifford Briggs the ropes and begin the process of new leadership.

Gifford Briggs will officially take over as LOGA’s president in March during the group’s Annual Meetings.

The younger Briggs will have big shoes to fill, because Don Briggs enjoyed one amazing ride.

Don Briggs said he has nothing but fond memories of his tenure, pointing back to disastrous times in the state when the oil and gas industry really carried the baton for helping the state pick itself back up and move forward. During Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, LOGA helped raise more than a million dollars to provide housing, fuel and transportation for hurricane victims.

They also helped to build 25 homes in flooded areas.

“So much good has been done,” Briggs said. “I can truly say that I am proud of the work we have done to protect our industry, provide jobs and revenue to the state and to aid those in need during tough times in Louisiana. The oil and gas industry is and must remain intertwined in the culture of our beloved Bayou State.”

And now, the hope is that good things will continue to happen in the future.

As President Emeritus, Briggs will work on special projects aimed to help the industry.

Briggs recently has been in the news, offering criticism toward Governor John Bel Edwards for supporting lawsuits against oil companies for their roles in damaging the state’s wetlands.

Briggs said the lawsuits have hurt future business in the industry and have scared away investors who were lining up to spend “hundreds of millions” of dollars in the state.

Briggs joked about old debates he had with former Governor Edwin Edwards, then quickly said that the current governor’s policies are “worse.”

“A Washington Examiner column written by the President of the American Energy Alliance pointed out that when the Edwards’ administration first took office in 2015, Chief Executive Magazine ranked Louisiana as the 7th best state to do business in the United States,” Briggs said. “Just two years later, this state has been turned into the worst place to do business, according to 24/7 Wall Street. And year after year, the job producers and revenue generators of this state face continuous tax increases.”

Politics aside, there are some positive signs that the industry has bright days ahead.

Mike McCauley, the general operations manager for Arena Offshore, spoke at a SCIA Meeting earlier this year. In his presentation, he said that national politics will override state politics in bringing the industry back.

“We feel good about the future,” he said. “So why should the industry feel good about the Gulf of Mexico Shelf? Well there was an election that was held in 2016, and that’s kind of resulted in a new outlook. An executive order was signed 13777 which mandates a review of all existing regulations. That’s kind of reset the bar there. In regards to the Gulf of Mexico, a relook at the well control rule, production safety rule, insurance… all those things are in the works. We are helping to collaborate with those rewrites and hopefully it will be things that come out that make more sense for both the industry and the regulators.”

Briggs said he believes that’s going to be effective as well, adding that he thinks he’s leaving the industry in a position to flourish and continue on into the future as a huge economic engine for Louisiana.

“The oil and gas sector must not be extorted for its success, it must be celebrated for all the great benefits it has given to the state and will continue to do so,” Briggs said. “That is what I will do. While I will not wear the title of President, I will continue to fight against the economic and political pressures that are threatening our industry. You haven’t heard the last of me yet.”

BY CASEY GISCLAIR

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