Beginning as early as 1925 numerous exploratory wells in North Carolina have been drilled on surface anomalies in the marsh and dense hard woods of the Deep River and Dan River Basins hoping to stumble on similar salt related features as those being found along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts. No salt was found and no oil or gas in commercial quantities to speak of, either. All the ingredients for oil accumulations are there, sediments, structure, source beds; nobody has been able to sort it out yet.
Exploration shifted to the coastal plains in the early 1940's targeting deeper pays in the lower Cretaceous, also to no avail. There are approximately 125 dry holes in the State and no production.
Standard of New Jersey (Esso, then Humble Oil and Refining, then Exxon), on a mission to determine the existence of source beds. spud the Hatteras Light House Well No. 1 in the summer of 1945.
The Outer Banks then were only accessible by ferry and this land rig was put on a train in Oklahoma, sent to North Carolina, floated across Pamilco Sound on barges and drug thru soft sand to the drill site with a half dozen dozers. Hands from OK, Texas and Louisiana came to drill the well and mostly all left to go back to their mama's within a few weeks leaving seafaring folks, and fisherman, from the Outer Banks to do the roughnecking. They got by just fine.
Short of the little sailor hats, they even looked like hands mixing mud.
Indeed these local folks got to experience all kinds of good shit on a drilling rig; they got big time stuck at 8,505 some odd feet and waited days circulating waiting on some fella from Seminole to come over with nitro glycerin where they torqued the drill pipe and made seven different shots before getting it to back off. They then fished the BHA out of the hole, side tracked the well, full holed cored over a thousand feet of possible sediments and shale, finally made TD at 10, 444 feet on July 16, 1946 and commenced to setting cement plugs for abandonment. Hell, I am proud of 'em.
Final TD was 10,754 feet, the well was logged, and cored and produced a wealth of information. That information is still be studied today as a compliment to a considerable amount of seismic that has been shot off the beach along the outer continental shelf. Traps have been identified...but the opposition to offshore drilling along the East Coast is very strong. Its NIMBY country; so it'll likely never happen.
As somebody once told me from Virginia, 'you people down there in the Gulf of Mexico can mess that mud hole up all you want, leave us alone.'
The rig was then loaded on a barge and Esso moved out into Pamlico Sound and drilled one more well; it too was a drill hole, left.
So, there you have it ! This was the Esso No.1 Light House Well, on Cape Hatteras, 1945, below.
The Outer Banks are beautiful, dangerous for boating as it is very shoaling and always changing; the tuna fishing offshore is awesome and there is really good surf at Cape Hatteras when the wind turns offshore.