The oil fever that gripped the farmers of Charles County more than a year ago has not yet cooled, but discovery of any black gold in the so-called Taylorsville Basin 2,000 to 5,000 feet below ground remains in the uncertain future.

John C. Krogmann Jr., president of Catawba Energy, fed the fever. The 28-year-old petroleum land man leased 15,000 acres -- paying $10 an acre the first year and $1 an acre thereafter, plus an eighth of any future royalties.

In August, Krogmann sold his leases to Texaco. Altogether, Texaco holds 90 leases in Charles County, according to John Breed, a company spokesman in New Orleans. He said the company also purchased leases on another 15,000 acres in King George County, across the Potomac River on Virginia's Northern Neck.

Last fall and winter, Breed said, the giant oil firm spent several months conducting seismic tests to determine whether oil is present.

"Our technical people are filtering and deciphering all the information," he said. "It's in the twilight zone right now. It's a prospect, and it must vie for drilling money with other prospects. It's an area of interest."

The farmers who leased their land are not yet counting their millions in oil profits.

"No," said Newport, Md., lawyer-farmer George F. Heinze III, "I think I'll be considerably balder and fatter before that happens."