Esso Unit Makes Find

In South China SeaEsso China Ltd., an affiliate of Exxon Corp., found substantial quantities of natural gas and condensate in a well drilled in the South China Sea.

The Wenchang 9-2-1 well is about 100 miles east of Hainan Island. It was drilled in contract area 39/11.

Cumulative production from four tests was 25.4 million cubic feet of gas a day with 2,160 barrels of condensate.

The best production from a single zone was 9.4 million cubic feet of gas a day with 1,450 barrels of condensate, Exxon said.

Esso China, the operator, participates on a 50-50 basis with Shell Exploration (China) Ltd., a unit of Royal Dutch/Shell Group. They are in partnership with Nanhai West Oil Corp., a unit of the China National Offshore Oil Corp., a government company.

Exxon said further evaluation will be required to determine the size of the deposit.

Philippine Oil Use

Up 15 percent in Quarter

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine oil consumption totaled 188,315 barrels a day in the first quarter of this year, up 15.2 percent from 163,516 b/d a year earlier, due to increased industrial and commercial activity, officials said Tuesday.

The Office of Energy Affairs said industrial and commercial use accounted for 116,000 b/d.

The import bill rose 18.8 percent to $273 million during the quarter.

The country buys most of its oil from the Middle East but is considering increased purchases from China.

Forest Discovers Oil

In Gulf Off Louisiana

DENVER - Forest Oil Corp. said it made a significant oil and natural gas discovery in the Gulf of Mexico offshore Louisiana.

The discoveries were made on Eugene Island Blocks 325 and 326.

The E.I. Block 325 No. 3 discovery well encountered 20 potential zones with 296 net feet of prospective gas-bearing rock and 40 net feet of prospective oil.

Several zones were tested and yielded a combined flow rate of 8.1 million cubic feet of gas a day and 623 barrels of oil a day.

Delineation wells were drilled nearby which also found several thick zones with gas and oil.

Working interest partners are Forest Oil, 50 percent; Adobe Resources Corp., 33.33 percent; and Plumb Offshore Inc., a subsidiary of Harbert Energy Corp., 16.667 percent.

Circle K to Acquire

Charter Retail Outlets

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Circle K Corp. signed a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Charter Co.'s retail gasoline and convenience store subsidiaries.

Covered are 538 retail outlets in 13 southern and northeastern states.

The agreement calls for the purchase to be completed for $50 million in a new issue of Circle K convertible preferred stock and $70 million in cash.

When the transaction is completed, Circle K will operate 4,585 convenience stores in 31 states, including five new states of operations - Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Circle K's foreign operations include another 800 stores in Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Working Rig Count

Rises by 17 to 897

HOUSTON - The number of working domestic oil and gas rigs rose by 17 to 897 this week, Baker Hughes Inc. reported Monday.

The rig count, a widely watched industry index of drilling activity, dipped the week before by 28 to total 880. A year ago, the count totaled 767, Baker Hughes said.

The rig count reached a peak of 4,500 in December 1981, the height of the oil boom. When oil prices plunged to less than $10 a 42-gallon barrel in the summer of 1986, the rig count declined to 663 - the lowest since the count began in 1940.

Among major oil producing states, Louisiana gained nine rigs last week, while Wyoming added four; Michigan, three; and Oklahoma two.

Kansas saw its rig activity drop by three, Colorado and New Mexico each dropped by two and North Dakota by one.