We Must Start Now

Offshore energy production is a long and arduous process, requiring years of government approvals, exploration, and development.  That’s why, to start reaping the economic and energy benefits of these natural resources, we need to start NOW.

The process to acquire oil and natural gas resources can take as long as 10 years.  This is due to the number of processes that must be followed by energy producers and government agencies to lease, explore and develop land for oil and natural gas production, as depicted below.

North Carolina is not even at the starting block of this diagram, because the land off the shores of Florida is currently prohibited from consideration for leasing until 2017 under the Administration's offshore moratorium that was announced in December 2010.

Leasing Process

Source: America's Offshore Energy


To make a full determination of how much oil and natural gas exists in an area, energy producers must first acquire a lease from the government. This is a lengthy process which includes creation of a government 5-Year-Program which establishes which areas can be leased; environmental and engineering studies; preliminary exploratory surveys to identify potential areas for development; and public comment periods.  This is a roadblock.  We are not part of the government's current 5-Year Program, but need to be included in the next 5-year Program for 2019-2024.

Once the lease is acquired, additional environmental studies, exploration plans and permits are developed and reviewed; exploration and production facilities are installed; and the necessary infrastructure to acquire the resources is built.

Energy producers can spend many years, and in excess of $100 million, to purchase a lease and explore it.  There is, of course, always the added delay of potential litigation and additional federal regulatory hurdles.  These time-consuming steps often portray leases as sitting "idle", when in fact companies are just "going through the process".  Many times, this long and costly process ends up with a “dry well” and no oil.

The risks are great.  The timelines are long.  And with gas prices reaching new record highs, the benefits could be huge — A 2015 poll shows that 71 percent of North Carolina voters favor offshore oil and natural gas development.

Even if the moratorium on offshore production for Florida was lifted tomorrow, it would take years for Florida to start realizing the economic and energy security benefits that lie within our vast natural resources.

For these reasons, we must start now if we want our children to benefit from the oil and natural gas resources we have off of our own shores of Florida.

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