Energy: Opening Up the Canyon

Now, drillers can see what's there

No one really knows how much oil and natural gas lie beneath the choppy Atlantic off the U.S. East Coast. But a year ago, some 40 oil companies were willing to pay $1.1 billion just for the right to find out. They bought leases from the Department of the Interior on half a million choice acres of the Baltimore Canyon. The tracts lie 50 to 90 miles off the coast, far enough over the horizon so that drilling rigs would be invisible from the shore; the main lease area is opposite Atlantic City, N.J. But before...

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