Oil lobby: NC to gain 55,000 jobs, nearly $4B in revenue from offshore drilling

As the push for offshore drilling heats up, the oil-and-gas industry said Thursday that North Carolina could gain 55,000 jobs, and nearly $4 billion in revenue, if the Atlantic Ocean off the state’s coast were to host drill rigs and oil tankers.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the powerful industry lobby, most of those jobs would come from industries in retail, food, waste and social assistance that would sprout up to supply the energy industry’s roustabouts, deckhands and truckers.

API issued the data a day after the N.C. Chamber, the state’s business lobby, held an energy conference in Durham at which Gov. Pat McCrory said North Carolina has waited far too long to get into the energy exploration game.

Advocates of offshore drilling are ramping up their efforts to end a two-decade moratorium and open up the Atlantic Ocean to drilling. North Carolina is one of numerous coastal states urging the Obama Administration to clear the way for seismic testing of the ocean bottom, leasing of ocean parcels and exploratory drilling. The U.S. Department of Interior is expected to decide in 2017 whether to proceed.

API estimates that offshore drilling would bring 10,000 jobs to North Carolina by 2025 and as many as 55,000 jobs by 2035.

North Carolina would also qualify for $885 million in annual rents and royalties, or nearly $4 billion from 2017 to 2035.

The drilling would take place in federal waters, between 3 and 200 miles offshore. The amount of oil and natural gas in the Atlantic Ocean remains speculative until energy companies conduct tests.