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Oil & gas company plans new facility, jobs for Broussard

Plains Exploration & Production Co. is building a $20 million facility in Broussard to support deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil and gas operations, the Lafayette Economic Development Authority and company officials announced Thursday.

Houston-based PXP already employs about 220 people in the Lafayette area and plans to add about 400 new direct and contract jobs over the next five years, LEDA President and CEO Gregg Gothreaux said.

The Lafayette project comes after PXP’s decision last year to pay $5.5 billion for oil company BP’s interest in several deepwater oil and gas fields in the Gulf.

The company also has operations onshore and offshore in California, in the Rocky Mountains and in Gulf region shale finds.

“They want to use Lafayette as their point of presence for deepwater,” Gothreaux said.

He said PXP had a small presence in the Lafayette area before its recent investment in deepwater Gulf fields but has expanded its workforce here by more than 180 since November.

Doss Bourgeois, PXP's executive vice-president of exploration and production, in a written statement, said, “We are committed to the Lafayette area for the long term.”

The company’s planned 120,000-square-foot warehouse will be used to store parts and equipment for offshore work.

PXP also is building an 8,000-square-foot office and conference room facility at the site.

Gothreaux said the facility will take shape on 26.5 acres at LEDA’s industrial park in Broussard and is scheduled to be finished by September.

He said PXP received no special development incentives to locate here.

There are at least 750 oil-and-gas related businesses in Lafayette Parish, according to figures from LEDA, and Broussard has become a corridor of sorts for oil and gas service companies.

Broussard Mayor Charles Langlinais said the city will soon begin working with PXP to provide any needed infrastructure for the new facility.

“It’s another tool in the quiver for economic development,” he said.

Gothreaux made the PXP announcement Thursday during his annual “State of the Economy” speech, held this year at the Cajundome Convention Center.

He spent most of his time working through a list of positive economic indicators:

  • Retails sales in Lafayette hit a record last year at $5.71 billion.
  • The March unemployment rate for the Lafayette metropolitan area was at 4.3 percent, the lowest of any metro area in the state except for Houma.
  • Lafayette had the highest per capita income in the state, rising to $44,184 for 2011, the most recent annual figure available.

The local economy has diversified in recent years, but the oil and gas industry still accounts for about 33 percent of the value of economic activity in Lafayette, according to figures from Gothreaux.

He cautioned attendees at Thursday’s event not to become complacent with current economic growth in the area.

“So far, Lafayette has been in the right place at the right time, but other cities aren’t sitting still,” Gothreaux said.