State Approves Requests For Seismic Surveying For Offshore Oil And Gas

State Approves Requests For Seismic Surveying For Offshore Oil And Gas Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 29 April 2015 04:00

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management (DCM) received consistency review submissions for offshore seismic survey activities for oil and gas exploration in January of this year.
On April 24th, DCM announced approval of those requests. In a release issued by DCM it states, "The N.C. Division of Coastal Management this week approved two consistency submissions from Spectrum Geo, Inc. and GX Technology for seismic surveying in the Atlantic Ocean related to the identification of oil and gas resources off the North Carolina coast."
According to DCM, "Because North Carolina's Coastal Management Program is federally approved, a number of activities are required to comply with the enforceable policies of the state's certified coastal management program - even if those activities do not require CAMA permits under state law. DCM will evaluate each consistency submission for conformance with the enforceable policies of the state's coastal program."
According to DCM, " Spectrum Geo, Inc. and GX Technology propose to conduct separate Marine Geophysical Surveys via 2D seismic surveying off the North Carolina coast to gather geological and geophysical data that could provide information about the feasibility of future development of offshore oil and gas resources. A more thorough description of each of the projects, along with copies of the letters of concurrence sent to each company, is available on the division’s website at:"
According to DCM, the surveys would take place entirely in federal waters, outside North Carolina’s coastal zone. State law does not require coastal development permits for projects outside the state’s coastal zone, but the federal Coastal Zone Management Act requires federal applicants to coordinate with the state for any proposed activity that affects land use, water use or any natural resource within the zone.
The release issued by DCM states, "After careful review of the proposals, the division found both proposed projects to be consistent with the relevant enforceable policies of North Carolina’s coastal management program" with conditions and recommendations."
Those conditions and recommendations are:
• As a condition of concurrence for both projects, the division will require a pre-survey meeting with representatives of the state divisions of Marine Fisheries and Coastal Management to review and discuss precise survey transects and timing in order to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any possible fisheries impacts or conflicts.
• Where practical, relocate proposed survey transects to avoid South Atlantic Fishery Management Council-designated Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, and important foraging, spawning and refuge areas.
• Conduct surveys at times that avoid potential use conflicts with offshore fishing tournaments, major recreational fishing areas, and seasonally-focused fishing.
• Follow the mitigation measures required by the Final Atlantic Geological and Geophysical Activities Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management established in 2014 for offshore oil and gas exploration. The federal government has stated that the mitigation measures are the strongest safeguards to reduce or eliminate impacts to marine life.
The Spectrum Geo survey would be conducted during the second quarter of 2015 and would involve two survey vessels towing seismic airgun arrays. The GXT survey would be conducted between July and December 2015, and would involve one vessel towing seismic airgun arrays.
According to, "Seismic air guns are used to find oil and gas deep underneath the ocean floor. Air guns are so loud that they disturb, injure or kill marine life, harm commercial fisheries, and disrupt coastal economies. These dynamite-like blasts - which are repeated every ten seconds, 24 hours a day, for days and weeks at a time - are 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine. Seismic airgun testing currently being proposed in the Atlantic will injure 138,500 whales and dolphins and disturb millions more, according to government estimates."
The sound waves that return to the vessel towing monitoring equipment are used to determine if oil or natural gas are located beneath the ocean floor.
The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution at their February 28th, 2014 meeting opposing seismic air gun testing for off shore oil and natural gas exploration.
The Kure Beach Town Council voted last year 3 to 2  giving Mayor Dean Lambeth permission to send a letter to Washington supporting seismic testing for offshore oil and natural gas drilling.
That resulted in unprecedented levels of public outcry opposing the Town taking a position on the issue by allowing the Mayor to write a letter in support when many in the community said they did not agree with that position.
The council was later asked to consider adopting a resolution opposing seismic testing. At the April 15th, 2014 meeting, Mayor Dean Lambeth and Council members Craig Bloszinsky and Steve Pagley voted against a motion by Swearingen to adopt a resolution opposing seismic testing. Swearingen and Councilman David Heglar voted in favor of the resolution.
On January 27th, the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released its Draft Five Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017 through 2022, which includes plans for offshore drilling in the Mid- and South Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic oceans.
The Surfrider Foundation, a leading non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans opposes offshore drilling and seismic airgun testing.
Pete Stauffer, Senior Ocean Program Manager for the Surfrider Foundation, said, "It is a dirty and dangerous practice that threatens the health of our oceans and coastal communities. Oil and gas development in the Atlantic would require seismic surveys, drilling operations, oil transport by tankers, and the installation of platforms, pipelines, and other infrastructure. Collectively these activities would significantly damage both the environment and related economies, while exposing the East Coast to the risk of a catastrophic oil spill."


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