Meet the man who wants to bring offshore oil and gas exploration to North Carolina

Port City Daily | Cory Mannion| August 10, 2017

WILMINGTON — As the debate over offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean continues, the organization that wants to bring the oil and natural gas industry to North Carolina is urging people not to rush to judgement on what its local representative said is a safe outlet to secure the country’s future energy.

The North Carolina Petroleum Council (NCBCE) is the state office of the American Petroleum Institute (API), which, according to Executive Director David McGowan, is the nation’s oldest and largest national trade association.

The organization represents the API’s business interests in North Carolina, as well as its members who do business in the state.

While the NCPC eventually hopes to open the opportunity for offshore drilling and refining of oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean, McGowan said that is at least eight to 10 years away. Concerned residents, he said, need to use that time to become informed on the subject at hand.

Is seismic testing necessary?

“First and foremost, this is really two separate issues that we’re talking about here, and I think a lot of times it gets lost in the discussion,” McGowan said. “The first is the seismic surveying, the scientific research that’s necessary to understand what our resources are, where they are, and how much we think is there.”

McGowan said this is a critical first step in the process of making informed decisions about the issues surrounding offshore drilling.

One of the most contentious issues within the subject, is that of seismic testing. This sonar based mapping system shoots high-powered air blasts at the sea floor, then reads the echoed sound waves to locate oil and natural gas deposits. While the NCBPE believes there’s no harm to marine life, studies have linked these powerful blasts to marine mammal strandings in the past. Pictured: A seismic survey ship tows an “airgun array.” (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY PHOTO)

However, opponents say these seismic tests have negative impacts on marine life worldwide; and there is some science backing it up.

But, McGowan said people opposed to the industry’s actions need to take a step back and look at the facts presented by the industry before they criticize.

“In my opinion, and our opinion as an industry, the federal government, which is in charge of this process, the state government, which has a very limited yet important role in this process, and local governments and citizens, cannot have an informed debate and properly weigh the pros, and admittedly the potential impacts, without that seismic research,” McGowan said.

Read the full story here.