The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the federal government must pay Mobil Corp. and Marathon Oil Corp. $156 million to compensate the companies for money they lost after Congress limited oil drilling in North Carolina’s Outer Banks area. In 1981, the oil companies paid $156 million to the government for the right to explore for oil and potentially drill off the shore of Cape Hatteras, N.C., pending environmental approval, but in 1990 Congress effectively stopped the government from approving new oil exploration permits in the area. By an 8 to 1 margin, the court ruled that the government had breached a contract with the companies.