New-field discoveries in California were down in 1979 from the previous year. The total exploratory footage drilled was slightly lower, but the total number of successful exploratory wells was up 19% from 1978. One new oil field and 5 new gas field discoveries were reported in California. None of these discoveries appear to be of major size. During 1979, hydrocarbons were discovered in commercial quantities for the first time in Oregon—the Mist Gas field, in the northwestern corner of the state, in Columbia County. A pipeline was constructed for initial production in late 1979. This discovery has spurred drilling and leasing activity. Mobil drilled a second deep exploratory well in Oregon, to 10,412 ft, which was subsequently abandoned. Only 1 shallow oil and gas exploratory well was drilled in Washington State this year. As yet it has not been completed.
Development drilling in California, although down from 1978, continued at an active pace and is related largely to steam-flood projects. Production of oil outstripped additions to reserves by 285.8 million bbl in 1979.
Geothermal activity increased in California’s Imperial Valley and Geysers area. Southern California Edison Co. has begun construction of a 10-Mw generating plant near Brawley in the Imperial Valley. Two other geothermal projects in the Imperial Valley sponsored by Southern California Edison include the development of a 50-Mw unit near Heber and a prospective 10-Mw plant south of the Salton Sea. Westmoreland Geothermal Associates also have plans to develop a plant in the valley. In the Geysers area, Sacramento Municipal Utility District plans to construct a 55-Mw plant. The Geysers capacity is expected to increase to 1,238 Mw by the end of 1982.