NC Attorney General Files Lawsuit to Block Marine Seismic Surveys

Guest “Are people really this stupid?” by David Middleton

Hat tip to Willie Soon…

NC attorney general files federal lawsuit to block offshore drilling

by: WECT Staff

Posted: Aug 27, 2020 / 08:30 AM EDT / Updated: Aug 27, 2020 / 08:30 AM EDT

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – Attorney General Josh Stein on Wednesday announced he has filed a lawsuit that seeks to block the Trump Administration from allowing seismic exploration for oil and gas off the North Carolina coast.


The Trump administration overruled North Carolina’s objections to offshore drilling, opening the way for WesternGeco, one of five companies seeking to conduct seismic exploration, to move one step closer to receiving necessary permits.

Seismic testing uses powerful airguns that blast sounds at the ocean floor repeatedly for long periods of time. Marine experts say these sounds can harm sea life and coastal resources – and could have significant impacts on North Carolina’s fishing and tourism industries.



Firstly, the idiot didn’t file a lawsuit to block offshore drilling. There hasn’t been any offshore drilling on the US Atlantic OCS (outer continental shelf) since the early 1980’s. There haven’t even been any lease sales since 1983.

Secondly, “seismic testing”… WTF? They must be referring to marine seismic surveying.

Flipper Will Be Fine: Feds Say Seismic Surveying is Safe

Thirdly, there is no evidence whatsoever that marine airguns have ever harmed any marine life… And even though there is no evidence, extensive precautions are taken to prevent harm to marine life.

To date, there has been no documented scientific evidence of noise from air guns used in geological and geophysical (G&G)seismic activities adversely affecting marine animal populations or coastal communities. This technology has been used for more than 30 years around the world. It is still used in U.S. waters off of the Gulf of Mexico with no known detrimental impact to marine animal populations or to commercial fishing.

While there is no documented case of a marine mammal or sea turtle being killed by the sound from an air gun, it is possible that at some point where an air gun has been used, an animal could have been injured by
getting too close. Make no mistake, airguns are powerful, and protections need to be in place to prevent harm. That is why mitigation measures — like required distance between surveys and marine mammals and time and area closures for certain species — are so critical.

US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), 2014

BOEM established a strict framework for marine geophysical surveys to ensure that they are conducted in a manner that least affects marine life. The sounds generated by marine airguns are within the bounds of common natural and anthropogenic processes and activities.

Figure 1. IOGP Report 358 (out of print)

If marine airguns harmed marine life, someone would have noticed by now. WesternGeco and TGS are two of the world’s major marine geophysical contractors. They have conducted marine seismic surveys all over the world.

On the WesternGeco maps, the magenta lines are 2d seismic surveys, the filled polygons are 3d seismic surveys.

Figure 2. WesternGeco global.
Figure 3. WesternGeco North Atlantic
Figure 4. WesternGeco Gulf of Mexico

On the TGS maps, the gray lines are older 2d surveys, the green lines are more recent 2d surveys, the filled polygons are 3d surveys and the blue dots are digital well logs.

Figure 5. TGS Northern Hemisphere

TGS markets the old 2d surveys shot on the US Atlantic OCS in the 1970’s.

Figure 6. TGS Atlantic OCS

I wonder if the idiot attorney general realizes that seismic surveys were shot off the North Carolina coast back in the 1970’s?

Figure 7. TGS North Carolina

For that matter, 51 exploration wells were drilled on the US Atlantic OCS from 1976-1984. The last well drilled was actually the closest one to North Carolina. The Shell Baltimore Rise 93-1 Well was drilled about 160 miles northeast of the North Carolina-Virginia border.

Figure 8. Shell Baltimore Rise 93-1 Location map

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) 2014 estimate of technically recoverable hydrocarbon resources was 4.6 billion barrels (Bbbl) of oil and 38 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas.

While much of this is rank frontier exploration, the northern boundary of the US Atlantic OCS is adjacent to Canada’s very active Scotia Basin.

Figure 9. US/Canada offshore Atlantic plays and fields. US BOEM and CAPP.

Just north of the US-Canada border…

Atlantic Canada has a thriving offshore oil and natural gas industry, with six producing projects and ongoing exploration activity in the area.

Atlantic Canada produces more than 233,000 barrels of oil per day, representing five per cent of Canada’s total crude oil production. To date, development of oil and natural gas production in Atlantic Canada has mainly occurred offshore Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

In addition to current projects, the Atlantic region has seen significant exploration activity in recent years. Exploration is key to the future of the offshore industry as it leads to new discoveries and potential developments.

The offshore industry has had a major impact on Atlantic Canada’s economy thanks to the royalties and taxes the industry pays to governments, and the creation of jobs and expenditures related to industry activity. Oil and natural gas companies in the region also contribute significantly to the communities where they are active.

Atlantic Canada’s Offshore Oil and Gas Industry

Geology doesn’t stop at state lines or national borders.

“But we don’t need the oil!”

“The Communist Chinese virus has delivered peak oil demand much sooner than expected”… Riiight…

Figure 10. US gasoline demand is back to within 700,000 bbl/d of “normal”… And a whole lot of us are still working from home. EIA

And crude oil stocks are almost back to the normal range…

Figure 11. The glut is nearing the end. EIA

Jet fuel demand is also recovering, particularly in the US and Red China.

Figure 12. “Demand for jet fuel in the U.S. is recovering faster than in many other markets.” EIA

If seismic survey acquisition began next year, it would probably be at least another year before the data were processed and available for delivery. It would take another year for companies to fully evaluate it and be ready to bid on prospective leases. If a lease sale was held in 2024, the first wells probably wouldn’t be drilled until at least 2025. Even if major discoveries were made, it would probably take at least 5 years to start bringing them on production… 2030, at the earliest… if any economic oil discoveries are even made. Of course, if Biden wins the election, this will all be a moot point. The US offshore oil industry will have largely been destroyed and we’ll all be freezing in the dark by 2030.

MAGA! Here’s a picture of my favorite hat:

“Make the GoM (Gulf of Mexico Shelf Great Again.”

I haven’t seen it since March… It’s in my office in Houston.

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Another Ralph
September 3, 2020 2:10 am

Takes me back. I was involved in some bleeding edge land based 3D seismic surveys in my early career in the early 80’s with Geophysical Systems Corp.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Another Ralph
September 3, 2020 10:56 pm

In the 1960’s – United Geophysical Corp. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Papua, offshore Java Sea (United Geo 1), and Borneo. Then I got married – in ’69. We’re still married. When I look at the movie clips – and compare equipment and working conditions – one heck of a difference. (If any other UGC bod happens to see this – I was known company wide as “Feathers”.)

Air guns on the Geo 1: 4,000 psi, 400 or 600 cubic inches every 70 seconds.

Phil Rae
September 3, 2020 2:10 am

Great article, as always, David! Thanks!

September 3, 2020 2:41 am

“Marine experts say these sounds can harm sea life and coastal resources – and could have significant impacts on North Carolina’s fishing and tourism industries”

The “can” and the “could” in the same sentence!

4 Eyes
Reply to  Chaamjamal
September 3, 2020 4:19 am

But actually chopping up birds with windmills is obviously OK

Rich Davis
Reply to  4 Eyes
September 4, 2020 4:15 am

Wrong! Correlation is not causation. All those dead birds under windmills are actually k!lled by cats. It’s just that cats are attracted to the purring of the windmills, so that’s where they engage in their avicide. The Science(tm) shows that no birds, bats, or insects are harmed by windmills.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  Chaamjamal
September 3, 2020 12:58 pm


September 3, 2020 2:41 am

Josh Stein used to be my State Senator.

The answer to your guest subtitle / question is “yes.”

Joel Snider
Reply to  Dave Burton
September 3, 2020 8:21 am

I’d call it activist sabotage. Stupid would be more easily forgiven – this is malice and aforethought.

old white guy
September 3, 2020 3:00 am

Tyrants never give up and there are millions who are dumb enough to think it will not get cold in the winter. This is particularly disturbing for those of us north of the 49th.

Ron Long
September 3, 2020 3:02 am

Keep calling out these idiots, David! They are against marine seismic surveying but are in favor of chopping up and cooking our flying friends with turbines and solar reflectors, since when did swimming become more important than flying? Some people need to freeze and starve in the dark in order to perceive reality. Wait for it. No, don’t wait for it, just go about your normal business and enjoy life.

September 3, 2020 3:18 am

David, thanks for yet another educational and entertaining post.

BTW, I assume “sate” in “Geology doesn’t stop at sate lines or national borders” is a typo and should be “state”. Want me to fix it?

Stay safe and healthy, everybody….even WUWT trolls.


September 3, 2020 3:54 am

Does that mean they will be blocking all off-shore wind turbines as well ?

They require seismic studies, and the wind turbines themselves create large infrasound pulses.

September 3, 2020 4:14 am

I’ve personally known this guy for his entire political career and has been doing things like this the whole time. He has, as they say, ambitions (and an ego). He is actually running for Governor in 2024 and uses stunts like this to get his name on TV with taxpayer money. As Attorney General he has no constitutional charter to bring something like this to court but who will stop him from doing it?

September 3, 2020 4:47 am

The AG is not stupid: the AG is deliberately anti-scientific.
And anti-North Carolina. Just as as George Soros directed.

Curious George
Reply to  hunter
September 3, 2020 11:23 am

Attorney General (and even a District Attorney) has a wide leeway to decide what to prosecute, be it a crime or no crime. The Portland, OR DA will not prosecute charges of interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, escape, harassment or riot and will subject charges of resisting arrest or assaulting a police officer “to the highest level of scrutiny by the deputy district attorney reviewing the arrest.”

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Curious George
September 3, 2020 1:13 pm

Beginning many years ago, Portland instituted policies that squeezed residential housing construction and, thus, house prices went up.
The current actions by the Portland authorities is designed to reduce the population of the area.
The housing issue will be solved.
{ Portlanders leaving should not expect a nice welcome elsewhere.}

September 3, 2020 4:56 am

The sounds generated during marine seismic surveys are nothing compared to those generated by an undersea earthquake. Is the North Carolina AG going to go to court seeking a ban on earthquakes?

Dodgy Geezer
September 3, 2020 5:02 am

Can’t see any of the seismic surveys off the West coast of Australia on these maps?

There was a lot of concentrated underwater searching for MH370 down there a few years ago…

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
September 3, 2020 5:53 am

Different kind of survey. The MH370 surveys were looking for detail on the seafloor, seismic surveys use much more power to image geologic structure literally miles deep.

HD Hoese
September 3, 2020 5:52 am

Would have to look up the references, but this came up in the earliest era of drilling off Louisiana when explosives were used. Recall that oysters in Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries experiments placed close survived, but too close fish were susceptible. Dynamite was useful to collect fish, oysters don’t have an air bladder.

I can get the details once the University of Texas comes to its senses and lets me back into their library.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  HD Hoese
September 3, 2020 9:15 am

Yep, as a kid back in the hills of North Carolina we use to call a 1/4 stick of dynamite a DuPont Lure. They worked great in anything from a small pond to a large lake. :<)

September 3, 2020 5:54 am

“WesternGeco and TGS are two of the world’s major marine geophysical contractors.”

TGS runs ships?

September 3, 2020 5:58 am

North Carolina has been cursed with some very corrupt leaders. The previous attorney general was Roy Cooper, a democrat, and he was pretty good as attorney general. He decided to run for governor and endorse Josh Stein. Since Roy Cooper did a good job in his role, people thought the person he endorsed would too. Nope. Roy Cooper became the governor only because he was a good attorney general. Of course, Roy Cooper has been one of the worst governors in state history. His idea of compromise is “you agree with everything I say, while I agree with nothing you say”. To be fair, I would say he isn’t as corrupt as some previous governors.

The previous two governors were Pat McCroy, a republican, and Bev Perdue, a democrat. Both were pretty good and not that corrupt, relatively speaking because all politicians are corrupt in some way. The previous two governors were ultra-corrupt, Mike Easley and Jim Hunt, both democrats. For example, while Mike Easley was governor, he bought some land near Southport — a very expensive beach community at the mouth of the Cape Fear river — for practically nothing. Since he was a democrat, nothing came of it. Also, until Bev Perdue and Pat McCroy, a few politicians from east of I-95 held almost all of the power.

This state has been cursed with some corrupt and incompetent governors. I am sometimes amazed it is doing as well as it is despite the corruption. I think it is because North Carolina has more rural population than most states. About 20 years ago it was the only state whose rural population exceeded the city population.

Reply to  Wade
September 3, 2020 7:35 am

So will it continue to be controlled by Democrats?

Joel Snider
Reply to  Wade
September 3, 2020 8:25 am

And speaking of corrupt leaders, I don’t know if anyone’s hears but here in Portland, Ted Wheeler – my pick for the most cowardly, enabling mayor in the country, has been driven from his home by progressive activist thugs.

He has literally been kissing their asses for years – marching with them – while looking the other way while they targeted citizens, business, and property.

Now they’ve come for him.

Reply to  Joel Snider
September 3, 2020 10:18 am

His police chief just resigned after he cut $4m and 100 officers from her budget. She (black woman, by the way) said her job was doomed to fail.

Joel Snider
Reply to  JimG1
September 3, 2020 11:42 am

Actually, he’s had two quit – Chief Lawless (really) – thought it was bad enough to leave town – and SHE was the one who said looters wouldn’t be arrested in her new job in Philly.

Jami Resch just resigned because she’s white and that’s not allowed in Portland.

September 3, 2020 6:59 am

Better shut down cell phone service, 5G network development, and microwave towers in North Carolina out of the abundance of caution.

September 3, 2020 7:05 am

David, way back in the ’60s and ’70s I took part in the MGS program, it mapped the geophysics of almost all the world’s oceans for military purposes. Here’s a lousy coverage map:

comment image

Paul Penrose
Reply to  David Middleton
September 3, 2020 9:52 am

Sounds like you’ve had a pretty fun career, David.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  David Middleton
September 3, 2020 11:24 am

Isn’t it a fundamental law of geophysics that you need at least one more line of seismic (or electrcal, magnetic or gravity) to fully show a prospect. They always occur at the edge of a survey.

John VC
Reply to  David Middleton
September 3, 2020 3:14 pm

In the summer of 67, I interned with union oil out of their Houston Office. The intent of this particular internship was to experience all aspects of oil exploration. So I got to spend a week with a seismic crew near Ft. Polk La. Mostly I was with the “jug” crew walking the line rolling out the little seismic ears, and rolling them up again after the shoot. Now walking through that Bayou country with a fairly heavy reel both front and back provided some interesting situations. One time I was pushing through some heavy growth and stepped into a bayou. (splash) On another line we came to a lake and to keep a relatively straight line we needed to cross the lake rather than walk around. An ancient row boat just happened to be near by, and we commandeered it for the cause. The boat was taking on water from the git go, and our 3 man crew had one bailing, one paddling with a board, and lucky me rolling out the line. About 2/3 across, we lost the bailing contest and the old boat sank. Swam the rest of the way, still rolling out the line.
Was mighty glad when that week was over, and I was back in the relative safety of the office in Bellair.

Reply to  Yooper
September 3, 2020 10:33 am

There is a web site that covers this.

September 3, 2020 9:25 am

Hi David,

I had friends at Enserch while you were there. A long time ago!

Similar environmental idiots came after my company between 2007-2011 when shooting 3D seismic offshore East Africa. Humpback whales migrate along the coast from Antarctica during the winter months. So they made us only shoot during the summer months which was madness. I blame it on the Norwegians, they are the ones that put the ideas in the environmentalist and gullible government types minds. Anything to wield power.


September 3, 2020 9:50 am

People have no concept of how big the oceans are. Here the spring tides are 17′ above chart datum. That means that in an area between Vancouver Is. and the mainland – 10-40 nm across 17′ of water can be moved out to the Pacific in 6 hours, and this is just a tiny little bit of water. Going to India when I was young, you went nearly 2 weeks out of the sight of land on a liner. Similarly, when people in the UK were asked to estimate the % of land ‘urbanized’ they thought it was most of the land – in fact, 8%.
People count and estimate things the way a chicken does: ‘One, two, a lot’ unless some numeracy is forced on them. It is these narrow horizons that make them fodder for the Greenies propaganda.

Does this mean no more scientific surveys of the spreading trenches in the oceans?

September 3, 2020 9:53 am

“Are people really this stupid?” Not necessarily. Some people live by the maxim that they’d rather be thought of as the sand in the gears of human progress than not to be thought of at all.

September 3, 2020 12:34 pm

Not in my back shelf.

September 3, 2020 1:50 pm

Does that include the surveys needed for wind offshore turbine foundations too?

Living in NC
September 3, 2020 5:26 pm

unfortunately too many north easterners have moved to north Carolina to elect the same type of people that screwed up the north east. thats how we have the current governor and stein

Robert of Texas
September 3, 2020 5:40 pm

OH! I saw this on some episode of “Siren” on TV! The sounds hurt the mermaids! Then the mermaids come to land and have violent sex or something.

That is what Attorney General Josh Stein is trying to secretly protect… I bet he saw the same episode.

(I was joking, but he might actually believe in mermaids, who knows?)

Neil Jones
September 3, 2020 11:59 pm

Most of the seismic survey work in the UK is preparation for building off-shore wind farms.

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