Texaco suspends drilling for oil in Charles County

April 19, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Texaco's plans to drill for oil near the Chesapeake Bay in Charles County are on hold after the company came up dry in its third test drilling in Virginia, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

An official from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has warned oil drilling in Maryland could have a devastating effect on the environment, said yesterday the company's lack of success "does not sadden us."

Texaco Inc. suspended exploratory drilling Tuesday on a farm in King George County, Va., after failing to find oil or natural gas in any commercial quantities, company spokeswoman Deborah Alford said. After spending at least $12 million since 1989 in unsuccessful searches for oil at three sites in Virginia, the company is rethinking plans to drill a $4 million exploratory oil and gas well in Charles County, across the Potomac River from the King George site, Ms. Alford said.

The spokeswoman said the third test well has been plugged, and the company will study core samples before reaching a final decision on whether to continue exploring for oil or gas in an underground geologic structure called the Taylorsville Basin, which undergirds portions of Virginia and Maryland's coastal plain. She was unable to say when a final decision would be reached.

Texaco said it now believes that if the basin contains hydrocarbons they probably will be in the form of natural gas instead of oil.

The company received state permission to drill in a cornfield just south of Faulkner, in Charles County, but that permit is being challenged by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The four-acre Charles County well site is several miles from the bay but is about 1 1/2 miles from the Potomac River and at least 1,000 feet from one of its tributaries, Popes Creek.

Ann Powers, vice president of the bay foundation, said the challenge will be argued May 1 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. She said her group fears the drilling process, the transportation of any oil or gas found and any refineries or related business that would follow an oil strike near the bay could endanger the environment.

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