The last few years have seen the opening of several new oil and gas exploration areas globally. But the next new play might come from an unexpected place.
Reports over the weekend suggest lawmakers are having a serious look at opening drilling on the U.S. Atlantic coast. An area that has been closed to exploration and development since 1982.
A House energy subcommittee heard Friday that the first steps toward a possible re-opening here are now underway. One of the main ones being a study on the effects of seismic surveys on aquatic wildlife.
Officials from the U.S. Interior Department told the House that the study is nearly complete. With results expect later in February.
A positive finding here is considered to be the first step in opening up drilling of the coast of the Carolinas, Virginia and other states. The prize here deserves a look. Estimates are that the U.S. Atlantic holds 3.3 billion barrels of oil and over 30 trillion cubic feet of gas.
The fact this is up for discussion at all shows just how mainstream the petroleum story has become in America. A few years ago the idea of offshore drilling would have been a non-starter on the east coast. But the onshore shale boom has convinced observers on the potential for jobs and economic growth from oil and gas.
Lawmakers are paying attention. And looking at all of their options in finding new exploration areas to feed growth.
It's not a done deal--especially given the negative press of late over seismic surveys and their effects on sea animals. But expect the pressure to stay on for politicians to keep studying the issue. It's a pretty big prize to leave in the ground.
Here's to going east, young driller,
By. Dave Forest