The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Offshore Energy Equals North Carolina Jobs

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 5, 2014

The waters off states along the Mid-Atlantic coast may hold significant new reserves of oil and natural gas, which is why the federal government should allow safe seismic testing on the outer continental shelf (OCS) there. Determining the resource base would clear the way for leasing, exploration and development that would mean jobs, revenue for government and more energy for America.

North Carolina is one of those Mid-Atlantic states – along with Virginia and South Carolina – where there’s bipartisan political leadership in favor of OCS development. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory:

Opening up the OCS could “create thousands of jobs, produce much-needed revenue and move us closer to energy independence.”

Here’s what the governor is talking about, in terms of job creation and economic growth. A study by Quest Offshore Resources estimates that offshore energy development would result in:

  • $26.4 billion in cumulative energy spending in North Carolina from 2017 to 2035
  • More than 55,400 jobs supported by 2035
  • $4 billion a year added to the state economy by 2035
  • $3.9 billion in cumulative revenue generated for state government by 2035

This development would follow existing economic impact from oil and natural gas industry activity in North Carolina. A PwC study found that the industry supports 146,000 jobs or 2.8 percent of the state’s total.

Industry generates $6.7 billion in labor income – wages, salaries and benefits, as well as proprietors’ income from jobs directly or indirectly supported by industry through operational spending, It also means $12.4 billion in value added – additional value created at a particular stage of production, including employee compensation, proprietors’ income, income to capital owners from property and indirect business taxes that are borne by consumers rather than producers.

Offshore development would be a significant boost to the state’s economy, and it starts with finding out about the resource base. Earlier this year API’s Erik Milito, director of upstream and industry operations, told reporters that investment in seismic testing is linked to the possibility that the area to be studied will be available for future lease. The last testing in the Atlantic OCS occurred about 30 years ago. New tests can be conducted safely, he said:

“Like all offshore operations, seismic surveys are highly regulated, and surveyors follow strict guidelines to protect marine life. The process begins with a soft-start – a technique that gradually increases sound levels, allowing animals that may be sensitive to this sound time to leave the area. Onboard visual observers and acoustic monitoring devices are also used. If they detect sensitive marine life in the vicinity, then all operations stop immediately and are restarted only when the area is clear.”

Developing offshore oil and natural gas reserves would mean opportunity for North Carolina, as well as neighboring states, opportunity for new job creation and economic growth that will provide broad benefits.

(Other states in this blog series: Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky.)


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.