A drive through the countryside of central and western Oklahoma reveals something not so prominent in years past: oil rigs. And if the labor and rigs were available, more people would be drilling.

That's the analysis of a story in The Journal Record this past week. Reporter David Page said from January through November of 2005, 5,244 "intents to drill" applications were filed.

Mr. Page reports the number was up 7.5 percent from the same period in 2004. But the number of active rigs failed to increase, indicating a shortage of available equipment.

That's been the problem faced by many producers. Last week, there were 156 rigs working in the state, up slightly from the same month last year.

Mr. Page reports more rigs are coming. Tulsa-based Helmerich -- Payne received orders for 54 new rigs during 2005. That represents an investment by drillers of $609 million.

As the economy in the state and nation improves, drillers compete with others for qualified employees. They're running advertisements promoting careers in the industry. Many of the younger workers downsized by the industry in the '80s can dust those resumes off if they haven't already done so.

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