State asking for more information on offshore seismic testing

By on December 28, 2017

Airguns behind a ship. (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

The N.C. Division of Coastal Management has asked four companies to submit more information about proposed seismic surveying for offshore oil and gas because the original proposals did not consider the latest scientific studies on the harmful effects to marine life.

Documentation to show that the companies’ plans are consistent with state coastal management rules were submitted and approved in 2015, according to a statement Friday from the Division of Coastal Management.

Since then, additional studies not previously available have suggested that seismic airgun arrays can significantly effect marine life.

Spectrum Geo Inc., GX Technology, MCNV Marine North America and TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Co. want permission to tow arrays of the airguns behind ships to send pulses to the ocean floor to locate oil and gas deposits.

The N.C. Division of Coastal Management sent the companies letters requiring more information supporting their position that the plans meet  state coastal policies.

On Aug. 17, Gov. Roy Cooper and Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, submitted comments in opposition to oil and gas leasing for offshore drilling along North Carolina’s coast.

Cooper and Regan said that offshore drilling threatens North Carolina’s coastal economy and its environment, while offering little economic benefit to the state.

“New studies published after the state’s initial review indicate seismic testing may have even more significant impacts on North Carolina’s coastal marine life,” said Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Divisions of Coastal Management and Marine Fisheries.

“Based on the new studies, we believe the proposed seismic testing could severely impact North Carolina’s commercial and recreational fisheries, and we are requesting more information for review by state officials and the public.”

The companies are also seeking federal permits from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

In August 2017, the state conducted three public hearings in Wilmington, Morehead City and Manteo to gather comments on the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s request for information and comments on the preparation of the 2019-2024 national outer continental shelf oil and gas leasing program.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality sought public input and information on the potential impact of oil and gas exploration on the biological, social, economic and aesthetic values of North Carolina’s coast.

In total, 465 people attended the hearings in Wilmington, Morehead City and Manteo. Of the 104 people who spoke, 96 were against oil and gas exploration off North Carolina’s coast.

A graphic illustrating the oil and gas leasing process can be found here. For more information on BOEM’s five-year oil and gas leasing program, go


  • Hank Hill

    To be honest it is 100% outside of any state jurisdiction. State waters only go out 3 miles. Unless these companies want access to state ports they really don’t need to do squat. They only have to answer to federal agencies.

    Thursday, Dec 28 @ 9:14 am
  • Greg Hamby

    The oil exploration proposed offshore here is nothing but an attempt to get a tax write-off for Oil Companies. The Exploration expenses are deductible and in some cases a tax credit.
    Oil developed offshore here would be very expensive. There is no existing infratstructure to get the product to shore as there is in The Gulf of Mexico or The North Sea

    Thursday, Dec 28 @ 11:26 am
  • Really?

    The same could be said in the past about Gulf and North Sea. There wasn’t infrastructure there originally also but look at it now. There didn’t used to be an 800 mile pipeline out of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska.

    Saturday, Dec 30 @ 2:07 pm
  • Mlewis

    Drill Drill Drill!
    Fast track the permits and let’s get to the oil and gas beneath our territorial waters. Jobs x3.

    Monday, Jan 1 @ 11:06 am
  • Anna

    The exploration companies’ reports are bogus. Ask former employees how the seismic blasts really affect the wildlife. Their “scientific” reports neglect to mention all the harmful effects that are witnessed by all aboard those ships.

    Tuesday, Jan 2 @ 9:41 am