July 26, 2017 01:08 PM

Fluctuations in the oil patch underscore interdependency within Acadiana’s broader energy industry.

Blake Miguez, Steve Miguez and Ridge Miguez
Photo by Robin May

When the price of crude oil drops, so does the revenue of companies like Miguez Fuel, a distributor of bulk fuels and lubricants.

From 2015 to 2106, the company’s revenue fell more than a million dollars.

“Our gallons that we deliver all over the state of Louisiana increase daily, but when crude oil drops, so do our lubricant sales dollars,” says George Aitken, vice president and general manager at Miguez Fuel.

Aitken says the price also drops for the customer. “The sales dollars are not really a true picture of the lubricant business,” Aitken continues. “You gotta look at the gallons you sell every year. We’ve sold more gallons; lubricant and fuel volume increased.”

He says this is a direct reflection of prices at the pump. “Unleaded is less than $2 now; two years ago it was probably like $2.30 a gallon. It’s a direct reflection of decrease in sales.”

But that doesn’t really affect Miguez Fuel — not directly, at least.

“It affects the oil business, which affects us because they’d be more active if the prices were up,” Aitken explains. “We’re running pretty good right now, but if the oilfield would start to pick up and some of these companies would start cranking back up, I mean, we would be off the chart. It would just be great.”

Miguez Fuel, a 35-year-old company, was started by Steve Miguez when he purchased D&D Fuel Dock in New Iberia. Aitken says Miguez’s intent was to “expand the marine business, SeaTran, which was called Iberia Marine Service, so that they had somewhere to park their vessels and do maintenance on them.”

SeaTran Marine is run by Miguez’s son, New Iberia state Rep. Blake Miguez.

In addition to supplying non-ethanol gas to service stations and delivering products directly to other customers, Miguez Fuel filters oil.

“Filtration is a small percentage of what we do,” Aitken explains. “It’s an additional service that we provide under circumstances where your oil will get wet or get particulate in it.

And instead of getting rid of the oil or disposing of it, we can bring it here and run it through our filtration system, pull all moisture out of it and bring it back to the customer to be reused for about half the cost of new oil.”

Aitken is optimistic about 2017 and beyond. “I think that we’ve seen the bottom and that things should rise from here,” he says. “We track sales and everything seems to be cranking up, both price and volume.”

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