LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy Dr. Paula Gant shared her insight on the projected economic boom in Southwest Louisiana at a special program hosted by the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, the U.S. Department of Commerce/Export Assistance Center and the Louisiana District Council.
"When I look at my hometown here, I see the tremendous promise that we all have set before us here," said Gant, a Sulphur native. "I know you're all going to reap the benefits."
Gant was joined by nearly 100 local business leaders at the McNeese SEED center to discuss a topic that seems to be appearing more than ever: the growth of Southwest Louisiana.
"You're seeing a lot of natural gas and oil as well as natural gas liquids that are feed stocks for the petrochemical industry flow into this area," said Gant. "You're seeing a tremendous opportunity for continued investment to create even greater economic uplift. The outlook for this region is incredibly bright."
Amongst several topics discussed, Gant says the U.S. is expected to become a net exporter of natural gas by 2018 and will be made possible by facilities like the ones being built in Southwest Louisiana like the expansion of Chennier's Sabine Pass facility which will now allow the export of natural gas.
Gant also shared opportunities in proposed projects that are said to help keep the workforce local.
"These are multi-billion dollar projects," said Gant. "I've heard numbers of up to $62 billion of investment in this area between now and the end of the decade. The real opportunity in addition for the area is to make sure we're investing in training so local workers can really benefit from this."
Gant also says addressing the public's concerns come first.
"Whether it's the production of these resources, the transmission of it or how they're being used, community partnership and dialogues are really important," said Gant. "The future we want to create we want to uplift our quality of life all around and that's going to take all of us and engaged and committed to that outcome."
Gant has done work for the American Gas Association and Duke Energy. Her work at the DOE focuses on America's natural gas and oil resources in which she says helps prudent production and efficient use.