Energy: The Lower 48

Almost totally unnoticed amid the debate over Alaskan oil and the Administration's energy program has been some encouraging news. Spurred on by the prospect of higher prices, oilmen have sharply stepped up the pace of exploration in the Lower 48 states. New wells are being sunk at the highest rate in nearly two decades. More than 2,000 drilling rigsĀ—meaning just about every one availableĀ—are now boring for gas and oil on shore, v. an average of only 975 six years ago.

More important, one in six wildcat wells (wells drilled where there has been no previous exploration) has been striking oil...

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