Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

North Carolina Governor Open to Regulated Fracking

After getting a first hand look at hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale -- and with a comprehensive study of the practice due out in her state later this spring -- North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue on Wednesday said she believes fracking can be done safely.

"From what I saw, fracking can be done safely if you regulate it and put fees in place to have inspectors on the ground," Perdue told WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC, after her March 5 field trip to drill sites in Pennsylvania. "I think the challenge for us will be to determine the capacity of our supply and whether the folks in these communities are willing to move forward."

The North Carolina Geological Survey believes that technically recoverable gas exists in the state's Sanford sub-basin (including Lee, Chatham and Moore counties in central North Carolina) and possibly the Dan River sub-basin (including Stokes and Rockingham counties in northern North Carolina).

Recent low prices for natural gas make it unlikely that companies will be eager to invest in drilling operations in North Carolina any time soon, Perdue said.

Last year Perdue, a Democrat, signed into law a bill that directed the state's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to review oil and gas exploration, determine where fracking may occur and make recommendations to the North Carolina General Assembly May 1 (see Shale Daily, June 22, 2011).

Perdue vetoed a second bill, S709, which called for a fracking study, offshore natural gas drilling and an offshore energy compact with neighboring Virginia and South Carolina. The Republican-controlled Senate overrode her veto. To become law it must still pass the state House of Representatives, which is also controlled by Republicans.

Not willing to wait for the state to make a decision for them, some North Carolina municipalities have been creating their own fracking laws (see Shale Daily, Jan. 9).

The group State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations Inc. recently concluded that DENR has experienced staff but is not adequately prepared to regulate oil and natural gas activities (see Shale Daily, March 2).

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