President Trump, who has been a strong proponent of developing US oil and gas resources, is drawing heat from the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), after expanding a moratorium on federal leases in US southeast to include North Carolina
With the US in an economic downturn as a result of coronavirus disruption, NOIA president Erik Milito said the President’s announcement “places additional offshore energy development out of reach and locks away much needed investment and jobs. An offshore moratorium that stretches from the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to the top of North Carolina’s offshore areas needlessly jeopardises our nation’s long-term economic and national security.”
The President recently extended a moratorium on offshore drilling from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to include North Carolina at the request of US Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), who is facing a tough re-election in November. Polls indicate that a majority of North Carolina residents oppose offshore drilling their state’s coast. President Trump’s order withdraws new leasing of federal lands off the North Carolina coast for the next 12 years. Under the order, leases for the purposes of offshore development are prohibited between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2032.
Mr Milito said: “Domestic energy moratoriums only lead to outsourcing of energy production and economic growth as countries such as Russia happily wait in the wings to make up our domestic energy supply gap.”
He added that the President’s moratorium also “casts tremendous uncertainty on the outlook for wind offshore North Carolina. Without a clear and stable regulatory horizon, interest and investment in developing offshore wind resources will be diminished.”
NOIA pointed to a Wood MacKenzie report released in August indicating that a prospective 2020 or 2021 wind lease sale offshore the Carolinas could support 37,000 jobs and US$3Bn in wages annually, more than US$44.9Bn in total capital investment and 11.5 GW of electricity off of the Carolinas coast.