Because of the numerous surface indications of hydrocarbons at the outcrop of Tertiary and Mesozoic formations in the foothills of the Apennines throughout Italy and Sicily, the search for oil in both Italy and Sicily began shortly after the first oil fields were discovered in the United States nearly 100 years ago. Although the early explorations by the Italian Government and by private companies resulted in the discovery of small volumes of oil in shafts and shallow bores at several localities in northern and central Italy, only ten small oil fields with a total cumulative production of slightly more than 100,000 metric tons had been developed to 1925. Till then most drilling had been done in the vicinity of seeps where formations were highly disturbed and the oil-bearing formations had little cover. After 1925 attention was given to the search for oil and gas on geophysical structures in areas outside of seepage districts. Although this line of search during the next 15 years led to the discovery of a few minor oil and gas fields, it did not yield important results until near the close of World War II. Since then six large gas fields, one yielding oil, have been developed in the Po Basin of northern Italy on seismic structures, and others are likely to be discovered in the near future. As a consequence of these discoveries, several Italian and foreign companies are actively engaged in exploratory work. Although the Po Basin offers the best prospects, extensive areas in central and southern Italy and Sicily justify a thorough search for oil and gas.

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