November 21, 2008

Sun News: North Carolina to Watch Virginia's Oil Hunt

Nov. 19--CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. -- Coastal North Carolina residents could get an idea of what to expect from offshore oil and natural gas drilling by watching what happens to an area off the Virginia coast that is currently being offered for lease.

The state of Virginia wants to know what might be down there and has begun what will be a multiyear process that could produce exploratory or production wells.

Even if a significant find is made, though, a 5-foot 8-inch person couldn't see a 150-foot high drilling rig that was 18 miles offshore, according to Lisa Flavin of the American Petroleum Institute.

The offshore area Virginia is exploring is the first on the East Coast to be opened as decades-old moratoriums on drilling expire and U.S. drivers feel desperate for a shield against the world oil market...

As many as 70 percent of N.C. residents want to see the state and nation exploit whatever energy sources may be available off their coast. But while coastal residents want the same kind of energy future of inlanders, their concerns are greater over how offshore drilling could potentially disrupt their lives...

Other scientists are concerned about how drilling might affect deep sea coral reefs off the coast. Should a spill occur at Mobil's proposed drilling site, Cahoon said, scientists have determined that the slick would flow onto the N.C. coast, 45 miles away.

Still, there are potential benefits to the drilling...For one, a discovery potentially would affect the domestic supply of oil, a decade or more down the road. Additionally, there could be direct payments to the state, and potentially counties, from lease payments and drilling volume. There would be good-paying jobs.

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