Black-Gold Rush

A vast discovery off California

In May 1981, Phillips Petroleum Co. and Chevron U.S.A., a subsidiary of Standard Oil Co. of California, paid a record $333.6 million for the right to explore for oil on a single 5,700-acre offshore tract in the Santa Maria basin off Point Arguello, Calif. Now that money looks like the down payment on a bonanza. Last month Phillips and Chevron announced that a test well had brought in a gusher, and expectations were heightened by several other successful drillings near by. Then last week Texaco confirmed the existence...

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