The 301 miles of North Carolina coast line brings our state gorgeous natural beauty and a destination for fun and recreation that draws people from across America.
But that's not all. Miles off of North Carolina's coast line in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region is part of what is known as the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area (see map below). The 7.2 million acres of ocean waters off the North Carolina coast also hold a rich treasure of oil and natural gas which can help ensure America’s energy security.
The federal government has estimated that the Mid-Atlantic OCS Planning Area contains 1.42 billion barrels of oil and 19.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, these estimates are based on decades old seismic surveys. New seismic surveys are currently pending, and a recent ICF International study estimates that this area could actually produce more than 5.8 billion barrels of oil and more than 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
North Carolina stands to benefit immensely from development of oil and natural gas in the Mid-Atlantic offshore region. According to a 2011 study conducted by WoodMackenzie for the American Petroleum Institute, responsible development of oil and natural gas resources will create jobs directly and indirectly for North Carolinians and deliver revenues to the state’s treasury.
Total job creation is projected to support over 160,000 jobs 15 years after initial lease sales. For North Carolina specifically, it is estimated that in 2025, the state could see nearly 45,000 additional jobs and, if revenue sharing between federal and state governments is approved, over $360 million in state revenue.
Before lease sales can occur, the specific areas must be included in the federal government's Five-year Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Plan. During the development of the current Five Year OCS Leasing Plan (running form 2012-2017), the Secretary of the Interior chose not to hold lease sales in the Atlantic OCS. The decision was made shortly after the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Secretary cited the current lack of infrastructure to support oil and gas exploration and development and oil spill preparedness and response.
Thanks to substantial changes in offshore regulations and industry’s own efforts in upgrading and improving operation procedures and equipment since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy incident, any new development in the Atlantic OCS region off of North Carolina's shores would be governed by these new safety measures to promote safe and responsible development of these energy resources. These precautions would be bolstered by several key industry standards recently revised for better dealing with deepwater operations, well design and construction, and blowout preventers.
Development of our state's own oil and natural gas resources in the Atlantic OSC region has the potential to result in thousands of new well-paying jobs for North Carolinians, add investments to the state, and contribute potentially millions in state revenue, all while lessening American dependence on foreign sources of energy.