Hopes rose again that the Balitmore Canyon Trough may produce commercial oil or natural gas for the north-eastern states as Texaco announced that it had found gas 105 miles offshore Altantic City, N.J.
Texaco's announcement, the fourth natural gas find in the Atlantic outer continental shelf in the last 19 months, was welcomed by U.S. Geological Survey analyst John Lees, who called it "definitely encouraging."
Texaco said that its semisubmersible drilling rig, Ocean Victory, hit gas in a 15,700-foot well. The well flowed at the rate of 5.5 million cubic feet a day over the weekend, and also produced about 18 barrels a day of oil condensate, a gas byproduct.
This most recent strike is 1.1 miles northwest of a joint Tenneco-Aminoil USA discovery announced last June, and 1.5 miles south by southwest from a Texaco-led consortium's initial August 1978 strike.
Texaco executives declined comment yesterday on whether the natural gas reservoir on the Tenneco-Aminoil tract is an extension of the reservoir that Texaco hit on its adjacent tract. If it is the same reservoir, it adds to the possiblity that there could be sufficent gas persent to justify building a pipeline to carry the gas ashore.
The Canyon area is the first frontier drilling zone on the Atlantic outer continental shelf, and yielded $1.1 billion in bonus bids at an Interior Department lease sale held in 1976. So far the seven other oil company consortiums drilling on the Canyon have been disappointed -- leaving behind 16 "dusters" or "dry holes," as oilmen call them.
Earlier published estimates said that the Canyon could produce 600 million barrels of oil and 4.1 trillion cubis feet of natural gas.
The Interior Department't Bureau of Land Management has announced that it intends to hold further leasing sales of areas adjacent to these tracts. Ironically last January a Chevron USA-led consortium of 10 other companies hit "significant" amounts of natural gas 30 miles southwest of Texaco's new well while drilling a geological test well to gain general information about the outer continental shelf.