Seismic contractors slam DOI’s move to keep the Atlantic off limits for exploration

The Obama administration’s decision to keep the U.S. Atlantic coast off limits for offshore exploration has received mixed response, welcomed by the environmentalists, criticized by the oil and gas industry advocates. The seismic contractors are expectedly among the critics.

Following the Department of Interior’s decision on Tuesday remove the Mid and South-Atlantic areas from the proposed 2017-2022 lease sale, Nikki Martin, President of the International Association of Geophysical Contractors, said the move was “unfortunate, not only for the oil and gas industry but more importantly for the American people.”

Martin said: “The United States is virtually the only nation that is not exploring the resource potential of the Atlantic. The decision is short-sighted and does not take into account the energy needs of a growing economy and ensuring the energy security of this nation for future generations. In addition, it calls into question the Administration’s commitment to support a true ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy security.”

He said that the move, coupled with the continued delay in authorizing seismic surveys of the Atlantic “represents yet another missed opportunity for the Administration to make informed decisions about America’s resource development.”

“It’s been nearly two years since BOEM’s announcement to consider authorization of permitting geophysical activities on the Atlantic OCS and still no permits have been issued despite coastal states approving these activities as consistent with their state coastal resources such as fishing and tourism. Had the Administration moved forward – granting the authorizations to acquire new seismic data – they would have data that would better define the resource potential on the Atlantic OCS,” Martin added.

Explaining its decision the U.S. Department of Interior said it eliminated the Atlantic areas from the proposed lease sale due to the local opposition and conflicts with competing commercial and military ocean uses. (More here:

On that note Martin said: “The Administration overlooked how the industry and other ocean stakeholders coexist in the Gulf of Mexico – allowing commercial and recreational fishing, tourism and oil and gas exploration to flourish. Current market dynamics and limited infrastructure are not valid reasons to exclude the Atlantic when the proposed sale is not until 2021. They have also discounted the opinions of those within Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – Governors, Senators, Congressmen, State Legislators, the majority of those states’ populations – who support offshore exploration.

“It is troubling that by catering to environmental special interests the Administration has further foreclosed this opportunity by excluding the Atlantic from consideration until after 2022 without regard to its mandate under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act for the expeditious and orderly development of America’s offshore resources.”
IAGC is the international trade association representing the industry that provides geophysical services (geophysical data acquisition, seismic data ownership and licensing, geophysical data processing and interpretation, and associated service and product providers) to the oil and gas industry,” Martin concluded.

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