A consumer energy organization said yesterday it has asked Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus to delay the planned action of offshore New England oil leases in order to rethink the government's leasing practices.
Meanwhile, engineers and surveyors aboard the Exxon Corp. drilling ship Glomar Pacific are preparing to begin drilling today 101 miles off the coast of New Jersey, in hopes of bringing in the Atlantic Coast's first oil well.
The government extended its offshore leasing to the Atlantic Coast last year, granting leases off the Delaware and New Jersey shoreline. Similar leasing sales are scheduled tomorrow, for the Georges Bank area off new England, a traditionally rich fishing site.
James F. Flug, director of Energy Action, a Washington-based organization, charged in a letter to Andrus that Interior's leasing procedures favor oil companies over public interest and that bidding for them should be more competitive.
The Glomar Pacific arrived offshore Thursday, but drilling operations have been delayed by bad weather. The drilling operation is costing Exxon $110,000 a day, the company said.
The heavy seas and radio interference with navigation equipment have slowed the efforts to anchor the drilling ship precisely where geoligists want it.
Experts predict that 1.4 billion barrels of oil may lie under the Outer Continental Shelf off the New Jersey and Delaware coast.