Continued growth projected for LC
The Lake Charles metro area looks to continue growing over the next two years, with three major LNG export facilities expected to start building by 2020, economist Loren Scott said Friday.
Scott discussed his annual “Louisiana Outlook” report that forecasts economic trends on the local, state and national levels. Venture Global LNG, Driftwood LNG and Magnolia LNG are most likely to “pull the trigger” in terms of construction, he said.
Lake Charles is anticipated to be the state’s highest growing area in 2019 and 2020, with 4,000 new jobs expected next year, along with 5,300 new jobs in 2020.
The rising price of oil is the main reason these LNG facilities are eyeing construction, according to Scott. Oil has risen above $70 per barrel and is conservatively forecasted to reach $80 per barrel.
“That’s going to give us a bigger competitive advantage,” he said.
Louisiana is emerging from a 28-month recession that started in 2016, Scott said. During that time, the Houma area lost more than 15 percent of its jobs, while the Lafayette area lost 10 percent.
“Even though there was great growth in Lake Charles and good growth in Baton Rouge, it was not enough to offset those loses,” Scott said. “Now that the oil patch has bottomed out, it will start to grow a little in 2019 and have a really good year in 2020.”
Scott said the state could see about 60,000 new jobs throughout 2019 and 2020. However, slower growth is projected in areas like Alexandria, Shreveport and Monroe.
Capital spending planned in offshore areas is expected to rise in 2020, based on investment decisions already made by big oil companies, Scott said.
The national economy is expected to grow by just over 3 percent, but there are two major threats. One is the potential impact of President Donald Trump’s new tariffs imposed on Chinese goods.
Another threat to the nation’s economic growth is a requirement by the International Maritime Organization that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. More than 60,000 oceangoing vessels will have to use low-sulphur diesel in the open ocean.
Scott said there isn’t enough of a capacity to fuel all the ships with low-sulphur diesel, which could cause sweet crude oil prices to spike.