OIL: The North Sea Rush

The wind-whipped waters of the North Sea usually roil in a fit of rage, the skies are oppressively gray, and the fog hangs on for weeks. Yet visitors are flocking to the sea's cold coastline as if it were the Riviera. They are coming to join the world's most frenetic rush for undersea oil and gas. No fewer than 350 companies and consortiums have begun putting up money for the search, investments expected to total $12.5 billion over the next ten years. Their ranks include such American giants as Exxon, Texaco, Mobil, Gulf and Phillips.

The first solid indications of natural...

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