The Louisiana economy will suffer from the federal ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for another two years, Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret said Monday in an address to the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

“The most uncertainty in our economy is in the oil and gas industry,” Moret said. “We now think it will take probably a minimum of two years for full recovery of the deepwater drilling ban in the Gulf.”

The moratorium was put into place after an exploratory drilling rig exploded and sank in April, releasing almost five million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf. The ban has been lifted, but with stricter oversight and rigorous permitting requirements in place.

In a more optimistic vein, Moret said growth in the New Orleans region would drive the overall state of the economy.

“There’s more to get excited about in the New Orleans area than I can remember,” he said. “Overall, our outlook for the year ahead is positive and optimistic.”

In a recap of economic development activity in 2010, Moret said the 53 major projects that were attracted to or retained in Louisiana would sustain 9,600 existing jobs and create 5,800 new ones.

He said the $5.5 billion of capital investment by companies in the projects would generate $58 million a year in new state tax revenues.

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