The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Offshore Energy and North Carolina

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 17, 2015

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is scheduled to hold a public hearing today in Wilmington, N.C., on its draft five-year offshore oil and natural gas leasing program. According to a study by Quest Offshore Resources, developing oil and natural gas on the North Carolina outer continental shelf could bring significant benefits:

  • 55,000 jobs in the state by 2035
  • Nearly $4 billion in revenues for the state’s budget by 2035, with revenue sharing in place

Here’s how Quest graphs the projected job gains for North Carolina with offshore energy development:


Typical for offshore oil and natural gas, Quest’s jobs projection for North Carolina shows a gradual buildup then accelerated growth as activity goes from the exploration stage to drilling and then production. Much of this economic activity and job creation is expected to occur in and around North Carolina’s port cities of Morehead City and Wilmington.

North Carolinians overwhelmingly support offshore energy development (71 percent) – a bipartisan majority that includes 70 percent of Independents, 90 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats.

We look forward to North Carolina’s input on the BOEM draft, which is drawing public comment in a series of hearings in states that could benefit from offshore development. Unfortunately, BOEM’s draft is too limited – offering just a single Atlantic lease sale in 2021 as part of the five-year program for 2017-2022. Other potentially energy-rich areas are excluded from the plan altogether. The plan as written would do little to alter the fact that 87 percent of federal offshore acreage is off limits to safe development:


Offshore energy takes years to develop, so the decisions of today are necessary for energy that will be delivered years later. America is blessed with energy abundance, but without a more robust offshore leasing plan too much of that energy will remain undeveloped – merely potential energy. States including North Carolina, Virginia and others will continue to be mostly bystanders to the American energy revolution without a more ambitious program of leasing leading to safe and responsible oil and natural gas development.


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.