Virginia is making efforts to restore a lease sale for energy exploration that was canceled in 2010 after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico followed an explosion on a drilling rig that was connected to a well owned by BP. The efforts have made Virginia the new epicenter of efforts by energy companies to get a toehold in the potentially vast resources hidden beneath the Atlantic.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimates that there are 3.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil on the Atlanticís outer continental shelf and another 31.3 trillion cubic feet, or 886.3 million cubic meters, of natural gas. The estimates are based on two-dimensional seismic surveys that were done in the early 1980s.