Louisiana oil companies face challenges trying to ramp up production: 'We're doing all we can'

Louisiana oil companies face challenges trying to ramp up production: ‘We’re doing all we can’

The White House has banned all Russian oil and gas imports, but ramping up U.S. production is not that simple. Companies not only need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get equipment back up and running, they also need the manpower.

LAFAYETTE, La. – Oil prices continue to jump as European Union nations consider joining the United States in the ban on Russian energy.

There's a new pressure to increase U.S. oil production, but experts in the industry say it's not that simple. 

"It's not just turning a switch like they think," said Mike Moncla, the president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association. 

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Moncla is also a co-owner of Moncla Workover & Drilling, a rig service company. 

Companies need rigs to get wells back online and produce more oil, but many had "stacked" or stored their rigs as they weren't in use. 

"Oil companies are doing all they can to get rigs back out, but when metal stacks, in this humid, south Louisiana environment, you get rust," Moncla said. 

Many companies stacked rigs when they were no longer needed. This can lead to rust and engine problems when it’s time to get the rig back up and running.  (Fox News)

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Moncla said fixing a rig can take between $75,000 to $125,000. 

"It's hard to afford to fix all these rigs when you don't know how long this is going to last," Moncla said. "We were all struggling to stay alive a year ago." 

Mike Moncla says the engine on this stacked rig needs to be replaced. That could cost him up to $60,000. (Fox News)

The U.S. oil industry has faced a downturn over the past several years after Saudi Arabia flooded the market and the COVID-19 pandemic decreased demand for gas. Many companies declared bankruptcies or downsized. 

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Therefore, business owners not only need money to repair equipment; they also need workers. 

"Years ago, we had 633 employees, just seven years ago," Moncla said. "We got all the way down to 150 and today we're back up to 300." 

At Moncla, new employees learn the ropes on the training rig before going out into the field.  (Fox News)

This week, instructor Ronald Richard is training a group of nine new employees. He said in a group this size, he normally sees about 3 stay. 

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"With all the ups and downs we've had, a lot of the older guys have found other jobs doing something else, so it's time to get these young people into it and show them what the industry has to offer." 

While the majority in the oil and gas industry support the ban on Russian energy and increasing U.S. production, they anticipate gas prices will remain high throughout the war, unless they're given more support. 

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