Outer continental shelf (OCS) activity in the Mid-Atlantic Region to date
has been limited to exploratory drilling. The first rig began drilling in March
1978. More rigs quickly moved into the Region, and as many as nine were
working at the same time for a brief period in January 1979. As of November
1979, nineteen exploratory wells and two stratigraphic test wells had been
drilled by the oil companies. One of these test wells and three exploratory wells
have had shows of natural gas, but none of the oil companies has yet announced
that it has found enough gas to go forward with plans for production. Because of
the somewhat disappointing results so far, exploratory drilling has declined.
Only one company is currently operating a rig, and one other company has
announced plans to begin drilling this winter.
The most recent risked estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey of
undiscovered, economically recoverable oil and gas resources in the Mid-Atlantic
tracts currently under lease are 8 million barrels of oil and 860 billion cubic feet
of natural gas. The resource estimate for oil does not represent a commercially
producible quantity. On the basis of the geologic information gained from wells
completed to date and the huge capital costs of building a pipeline to bring the
gas ashore, the natural gas estimate for currently leased tracts in the Mid-Atlantic
Region appears to be short of a commercially producible amount.
To date, onshore impacts resulting from OCS exploration consist of two
support bases: a helicopter base in Atlantic City, New Jersey, from which crews
are flown out to the drilling rigs; and a support base in Davisville, Rhode Island,
from which equipment and supplies are ferried out to the rigs by boat. It is
expected that exploratory activity will remain close to present levels for at least
the next six months; consequently, support activity at Davisville and Atlantic
City for Mid-Atlantic OCS operations during the same period is expected to
correspond to current levels.