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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!