Offshore drilling? NC considers mix of tourism, refineries

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. _ When considering offshore oil exploration, North Carolina leaders should analyze the future appearance of the coastline if the industry strikes oil and locates here, and they should evaluate whether the state would get any money, said a lawyer involved in past negotiations with oil companies.Clark Wright Jr., a New Bern lawyer who advised then-Gov. Jim Martin during negotiations with Mobil when it held a lease for drilling off the Outer Banks about 20 years ago, said state leaders should decide whether heavy industry could fit into the mix along a coast that relies on tourism and recreation.

"Somewhere in hurricane alley -- Norfolk or Charleston or Wilmington or Morehead City -- there are going to be tank farms, refineries and thousands of miles of pipeline," said Wright, speaking Wednesday at a conference on offshore oil and gas exploration at Carteret Community College. "What is the Crystal Coast going to look like? Where would we put refineries?"

A congressional moratorium on offshore drilling expired Sept. 30. The U.S. Minerals Management Service recently took the first step to offer leases for oil and natural gas exploration offshore of Virginia in an area about 50 miles from the Outer Banks.

Read the full story at