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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — As state leaders look for ways to boost the economy, one NC State professor is weighing the pros and cons of offshore drilling and the effects it may have in North Carolina.

Fishing and tourism are two multi-million dollar industries in North Carolina, but Dr. Mike Walden’s new study says there could be even more money to be made if the coastline had a slightly different view featuring drilling wells.

Click here to read Dr. Walden’s report

“There is new technology that allows oil companies and drillers and energy developers to access reservoirs of energy that they couldn’t access earlier with previous technology. That’s one reason. The other reason is price. With the price of oil hovering close to $100 a barrel, it makes economic sense,” Walden said.

Over a 40-year period Dr. Walden says drilling off of the coast could become a $2 billion a year industry creating close to $17,000 jobs. But his report also shows that it could cost fishing and tourism as much as $83 million per year in coastal communities that depend on those industries part of their economy.

“In 2011, which is the most recent numbers that we have, tourism supplied New Hanover County with 5,100 jobs and supported a payroll of over $94 million,” said Connie Nelson with the local convention and visitors bureau. “Tourism in New Hanover County ranks No. 9 in the 100 counties in North Carolina, and we’re very proud of that.”

Despite the fact that his report showed that offshore drilling would be a multi-billion dollar industry in the state, Dr. Walden says that it is up to federal and state lawmakers to weigh the pros and cons of offshore drilling off of our coast.

Comment on this Story

  • Vog46

    Is this passage:

    “Unfortunately, they are also the most uncertain factors. The energy resource (oil, natural gas) exists either beneath the ocean or underground, and therefore quantities cannot be easily viewed and assessed. The recoverable quantities will therefore be – by definition – estimates.
    Technologies are constantly evolving to better calibrate the quantities of recoverable energy resources, which means the available quantities are changing over time. Also, better estimates of
    recoverable quantities can be made once wells are drilled.”

    All drilling will be exploratory until they determine there’s oil or gas there and if it’s in quantities that make recovery profitable.

    I say explore away…..


  • Doug Reutlinger

    Freedom ; our country will reach true indendence again only if we become free of our dependence from other countries. The USA has more oil than all the he middle east countries combined, our own oil would mean jobs – more disposable income – less USA debt – the list goes on.
    Those who oppose drilling have another agenda entirely.

  • Steven Klem

    Drilling needs to be pulled from the table. We have wind, solar and tidal energy to tap.
    There is not one good reason to drill and risk destroying our coastline. Not one.

  • taxpayer

    subsidizing wind & solar…they’d flop, fizzle, and burn out. Does the name Solyndra ring a bell? If it doesn’t, they’re just one of Obama’s hand-picked losers that received Billions of taxpayer dollars.

  • Vog46

    But what will become of the product, if found?
    Gas has to be stored – usually in liquid form. This would mean pipelines leading to facilities onshore. LNG is not a bad thing.
    Oil, on the other hand, is a little more intensive.
    They either pipe it to TX/LS or build a refinery to refine it here
    If so, where?
    Oil is a funny commodity. The more you find the cheaper it gets and this causes oil company’s to think twice about finding even more or building refineries to refine the stuff.
    Then there’s quantities. If there’s limited oil supplies the easiest and most cost effective thing to do would be to pipe it to TX for refining. Why build a refinery for a limited supply of crude here?

    Unfortunately this boils down to money. So long as its profitable oil companys will do what it takes to get oil out of the ground. Fracking, is somewhat like drilling in that statistically fracking sites tend to get oil easily at first but it does taper off rapidly.
    But we need to buy time until alternate energy becomes more cost effective.
    Using new oil sources and exploiting our abundant supplies of NatGas are the best ways to do this.


  • B M

    This is funny stuff here, you got a guy that call’s himself a “DR” which implie’s education but he’s weighing a $2 billion” dollar ayear industry against a couple “multi million dollar industries” a year and there’s a question in his mind????????? back up a little, let’s talk fishing for a minute, the gulf has benefitted greatly from the oil rigs, those platforms have become their own ecosystems, look at the coral and fish populations each one now supports where there would be nothing but sand, fishermen make a bee line for those platforms, then do some current research and see where the FED’s are requiring old rigs to be blown off at the sea floor, millions of red snapper floating to the top dead weekly, and ecosystems destroyed, coral that will never be back, now for TOURIST, does anybody think that Mr Joe can stand on the beach and see one of these rigs???????? What a joke, the only influence oil rig’s may have on tourist is actually promoting it, if the price of fuel come’s down, more people will be able to come to the coast!!!

    The ugliest and biggest rip off the public can see is acres of solar panels or hundreds of windmills, all TAXPAYER subsidized, never to be self sustaining!

  • ChefnSurf

    It’s not just 2 billion vs multi-million. The addition revenues probably wouldn’t offset potential tourist loss for the beach towns. Those additional revenues will wind up going somewhere else. As a result of that, we’re really taking about changing the life and lifestyle of those who live in coastal Carolina, and not necessarily for the better.

    FYI: Go down to the Gulf Coast and look out. The rigs are clearly visible everywhere. Gas prices probaly wouldn’t decrease in our area unless the oil was actually refined here, and that’s not going to happen. You’re probably right about the fishing though.


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