Surpassing the previous record of $1.813 billion for 1980, investments in public oil and gas programs in the past eight months have reached a new high, $1 .848 billion.
Those figures, released in a report by Investment Search Inc., an Annapolis firm that analyzes oil and gas programs, suggest continuing strong interest in energy investments as tax shelters and income producers.
The report also covered major trends in the industry such as:
* A substantial increase in sales of the largest programs (those of $15 million or higher) in the first half of this year.
* A shift away from programs primarily aimed at exploratory drilling, with greater interest in those that balance exploration and development.
* The emergence of royalty programs, in which a partnerhsip acquires royalties on producing wells or undrilled properties.