Oil and Gas Program

The state Oil and Gas Program administers and enforces the provisions of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act.There have been 129 oil and gas exploration wells drilled in the state. Most of these wells are in Mesozoic Basins exposed in the Piedmont or those buried beneath Coastal plain sedimentary deposits. The earliest wells were drilled in the 1920s and the most recent activity occurred in the 1990s when wells were drilled in Lee and Chatham counties. Two of the wells drilled were completed in the Triassic Cumnock Formation but were shut in for lack of proven offset reserves and production infrastructure.

The USGS conducted a study of the total petroleum system of the Mesozoic Basins of the Eastern U.S. coast and published its findings in 2012 The source rocks for oil and gas within the Mesozoic Basins were determined to be the gray and black shales and coals of the Triassic Cumnock Formation (TCF). In North Carolina, the Deep River Basin Assessment Unit (AU) is estimated to have a mean technically recoverable 1.7 TCF gas and the Dan River AU is estimated to contain a mean technically recoverable 49 BCF gas. 

North Carolina has commercially important occurrences of coal in parts of Chatham, Lee and Moore counties. The area is referred to as the Deep River Coal Field. The coal beds are Triassic in age and occur in the Cumnock formation. The coals are gas-bearing as evidenced by fires and explosions reported from early coal mining operations. The Dummit-Palmer coalbed methane test well, drilled in 1982, was tested and yielded gas recoveries of 12.1 cc/g and 986.5 BTU. The well was stimulated and there were indications the well was capable of about 40,000 cubic feet per day.

Helium is present in the gas analyzed from the Butler and Simpson wells drilled in 1988 and 1998, respectively.

There have been numerous inquiries from the public and industry regarding leasing and drilling in the State’s Triassic Basins, but to date there have not been any proposals for development submitted to the Oil and Gas Commission.

Oil and Gas Well Permitting Flow Chart


Drilling Unit Applications Received: 0
Complete Oil or Gas Well Permit Applications Received: 0
(figures updated as received)

Oil and Gas Program Staff

Jim Chapman
Senior Geologist for Oil & Gas Regulations
Oversight of Oil and Gas Program supporting the Oil and Gas Commission

Dr. Kenneth B. Taylor, PG
State Geologist of North Carolina

Mailing Address

DEQ/Oil & Gas Program
1612 Mail Service Center 
Raleigh, NC  27699-1612 

For additional information, please contact Kat Russell at 919-707-9237 or kathleen.russell@deq.nc.gov.