OIL: Comeback

In California's tiny, barren Cuyama Valley, more than a dozen companies had probed for oil, hit nothing but dusters. Only Los Angeles' aggressive Richfield Oil Corp. kept on drilling because, as one Richfield executive put it, "our geologists couldn't prove there wasn't oil." There was. Richfield struck its first oil last winter. Last week the company brought in its third well, an 8,000-to-10,000-barrel-a-day gusher that was "choked" down to 600 barrels a day. But it "proved up" the field and made the Cuyama strike the richest in California in ten years.

Pitched Tents. The oil rush was on. Texas Co.,...