National Oil and Gas Leasing Plan and Seismic Testing

On Jan. 4, 2018, the U.S. Dept. of Interior announced plans to open waters off of North Carolina and other Atlantic Coast states to offshore oil and gas exploration and development. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held a public meeting to accept written comments on the draft proposed plan on Feb. 27 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the North Raleigh Hilton, 3415 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh. 

A 60-day public comment period on the Draft Proposed Program ended on March 9, 2018, and the state submitted comments opposing the proposed program. 

BOEM may soon publish a Proposed Program and Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), triggering a 90-day comment period. If North Carolina is included in this five-year plan, this will be last opportunity to comment before the Proposed Plan is sent to the President and Congress for final approval.

After BOEM’s pre-leasing activity and possible lease sales, they will conduct another review process for post-leasing activities that will include oil and gas exploration and oil and gas development approvals. A graphic illustrating the Oil and Gas Leasing Process can be found here

For more information on BOEM’s five-year oil and gas leasing program, go to

See a more detailed graphic on the process and its timeline. 

See the timeline of events for a full summary. 

See related documents from all parties involved broken up in the tabs below. 

Tab/Accordion Items

August 20, 2014: NC Request to Review Unlisted GG Activities

November 18, 2014: OCM Unlisted Activities Approval

July 21, 2017: Letter to US Dept. of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service from Gov. Cooper and DEQ 

Dec. 22, 2017: Press release asking seismic companies for supplemental consistency information 

March 13, 2018: Response letter to BOEM asking them to refrain from issuing permits to seismic companies

Nov. 30, 2018:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued incidental harassment authorizations (IHAs) to five separate applicants to incidentally harass marine mammals during geophysical survey activities in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Nov. 30, 2018: NC DEQ’s Secretary Michael S. Regan sent out a statement in response

Dec. 14, 2018: Complaints filed challenging the Incidental Harassment Authorizations:

  1. SELC/NGOs complaint
  2. SCELP/SC Municipalities complaint
  3. South Carolina’s Complaint to intervene
  4. North Carolina and Atlantic States Complaint to intervene

Dec. 20, 2018: Nine Attorneys General file Complaint and Motion to Intervene.

Seismic survey companies information


MCNV Marine North America CGG
Spectrum Geo, Inc. 


March 12, 2019: Federal consistency determination request

April 11, 2019: DCM Incomplete Submission

April 15, 2019: DCM Request to "Stay" Review 

May 20, 2019: Public Hearing

May 24, 2019: DMF WesternGeco Review

May 24, 2019: WRC WesternGeco Review

June 11, 2019: DCM's Objection to WesternGeco's Consistency Determination Request 

July 10, 2019: WesternGeco Notice of Appeal of North Carolina's Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Objection

Oct. 21, 2019: NOAA Notice of Appeal by Western Geco of North Carolina’s Consistency Objection

Oct. 22, 2019: WesternGeco’s Principal Brief in its appeal of North Carolina’s Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Objection

Dec. 3, 2019: North Carolina's Brief in Opposition to Western Geco's appeal of North Carolina's CZMA Consistency Objection

Dec. 23, 2019: Western Geco's Reply Brief

June 15, 2020 WesternGeco North Carolina Consistency Appeal Decision