In looking back at drivers of regional economic activity over the past several years, one consistent theme has been energy. Discoveries of new resources and application of high-tech extraction techniques have led to a boom in the regional energy sector. Keeping up with information on these developments can be a challenge, but thankfully we have a great resource right here in the Southeast.

Louisiana State University's Center for Energy Studies (CES) is mandated to provide energy information and analysis that responds to the needs of the legislature, public agencies, and business and civic groups. The CES maintains some unique energy databases and is the official repository of energy information from the state and the Energy Council.

CES staff members respond regularly to requests from a wide variety of individuals and institutions for specialized energy data and information. The website contains a list of very informative presentations, many focusing on broader issues on the energy sector—including studies that show the impact of shale gas and oil production and the effect of hurricanes on energy infrastructure. 

Here at the Atlanta Fed, we tap into the CES on a regular basis for its knowledge and expertise. We also have a dedicated Energy Advisory Council made up of industry leaders from the region. Meeting three times a year, this council discusses all facets of the industry and investigates trends in oil-related industries, nationally and globally, which in turn helps inform the Atlanta Fed's assessment of the economy.

The Energy Advisory Council is headed by Bob Musso, senior vice president and regional executive of the New Orleans Branch, and assisted by the Bank's REIN staff from the New Orleans Branch. Information gathered from these contacts, and other energy contacts from the region, are incorporated into the Bank's internal and external reports on the state of the economy. Most recently, the council was instrumental in helping Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart assess the impact of Hurricane Isaac on the Gulf Coast's energy infrastructure.

While our interest in energy focuses on its national impact, having southern Louisiana in the Sixth Federal Reserve District helps put the pieces together. Having the large, energy-rich state of Texas in its region puts the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in a similar position. The Dallas Fed produces the Quarterly Energy Update, which is another great source of information.

Whether it is data, analysis, or industry reports, resources for tracking the energy sector are vast. Given the growing importance of energy extraction and production in the regional and national economy, drilling into these information resources is well worthwhile.

Photo of Mike ChrisztBy Mike Chriszt, a vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department