MMS Releases Study on Effects of Offshore Oil and Gas Activity

The effects of the offshore oil and gas industry on two Louisiana cities, New Iberia and Morgan City, and the families who live in them are investigated in a new socioeconomic report released by the Minerals Management Service (MMS). The study, Social and Economic Impacts of OCS Activity on Individuals and Families, was produced by a team of social scientists from the University of Arizona’s Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology and 14 teacher-researchers in both cities. Input was received from hundreds of local volunteers, and the findings are found in the two volumes that make up this study.

New Iberia and Morgan City are located in Southern Louisiana. Both are involved in diverse activities associated with the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). New Iberia is a sugarcane town that acquired an oil sector. Morgan City is a shrimping and commercial port on the Atchafalaya River that was strategically poised to become a prominent fabricating, service, and supply center for the oil and gas industry. The communities, with populations of 30,000 and 12,000, respectively, are amenable in size for ethnographic study which, in its broadest sense, endeavors to understand the social, political, economic, and cultural dynamics of communities. The study found that offshore oil and gas activity is the source of many kinds of workplaces and patterns in which many different lifestyles develop. Workers and their families have indicated that the nature and extent of OCS-related effects vary according to industry sector and position within the sector and the company. Factors that influence effects include the stability and vulnerability of employment in the sector, wages and opportunities for advancement, work schedule patterns, and safety. Within and among sectors, company responses to industry fluctuations, restructuring, and other changes in the oil and gas industry differ considerably, and these responses contribute to the impacts felt by workers and families.

The results of this research are reported in two companion volumes. Volume I surveys the effect of OCS activities on workers in diverse sectors of the industry, on individuals and families, and on communities. Volume II, Case Studies, looks at the communities of New Iberia and Morgan City, the multigenerational attitudes towards work in the oil and gas industry, and recent changes in two transportation sectors, trucking and offshore supply vessels.