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Wave of new drilling permits in Louisiana may come with increasing oil demands

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BATON ROUGE - A wave of new drilling permits in the state are likely coming as the country looks to get oil from places other than Russia.

Drilling requests and rigs operating here are hitting new highs as part of the country's rebound from the pandemic.

More and more companies want to drill for oil in Louisiana. The number of applications to get permits is quickly rising after a slow-down amid COVID closures in 2020.

With fewer people driving around, and demand down, about 26 rigs were operating in 2020. This year, there are nearly double running in the state, and requests are coming in for more.

"The industry saw a recovery in demand, they saw an increase in the price they were getting, so they started drilling more," said Patrick Courreges, communications director for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

As the country moves past the worst of the pandemic, people are traveling, and oil and gas demands are rising.

"We saw in 2020 when demand went way down, the economy was kind of shuttering," Courreges said. "You had the depths of the COVID lockdown and shut things down like that."

Some oil companies shut down for good, while others laid workers off, but more jobs could be on the way if there is more drilling.

"As the prices recovered, as they are able to get more for the product, they are able to open back up, they are able to expand again, they are able to start drilling again, and be able to make a living doing it and pay their people," Courreges explained.

While the war in Ukraine is contributing to the rising cost of oil, it has no effect yet on the number of drilling operations in Louisiana.

"If you see effects from this, you are probably talking about a couple of months down the line before they really had a chance to respond," Courreges said.

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