After his rice fields flooded in late 1901, Jules Clement noticed bubbles rising to the surface of the floodwater. Because he had heard about the Spindletop well in Texas -- which had triggered the Lone Star State's oil boom some nine months earlier -- he decided to try an experiment: He put an old stove pipe over the bubbles and threw a match down the pipe. The gas from the bubbles ignited, signaling an oil deposit beneath. When word reached Jennings, businessmen quickly leased 2,000 acres around the seepage and formed S.A. Spencer & Co. The Louisiana oil boom had begun.
The oil and gas industry has become a mainstay of Louisiana's economy. A 2014 economic-impact study by Baton Rouge consultant Loren Scott showed it has a total economic impact on the state of about $73.8 billion, which includes taxes, royalties, fees and salaries. However, the price of oil is as volatile as those fumes Clement ignited in 1901, and Louisiana feels the pain every time they drop. Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, said in 2015 that every time the price of a barrel of oil drops by $1, the state's economy loses $12.5 million.