The newest Fed “Beige Book” contains the following entry from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, of which Anadarko Petroleum Corp. chairman and chief executive Jim Hackett is chairman, succeeding Ray Hunt, chairman of Hunt Oil Co. The Dallas region includes North Louisiana and all of Texas, which contain the Haynesville and Barnett shale plays, plus southern New Mexico, which includes Permian Basin plays. “Rising energy prices have pushed oil and natural gas drilling sharply higher in recent months. Land-based drilling directed to unconventional sources of natural gas has seen the largest gains. Drilling companies are adding jobs but report having difficulty finding workers with the skills they need.” The Atlanta-region report, which includes South Louisiana, does not cite the energy industry among relevant factors in that region’s economy. However, the Kansas City-region bank, which includes coverage of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico, reports, “District energy activity continued to be very robust in June and early July. Even though the District count of active drilling rigs was down slightly, contacts reported increased activity since the last survey period. “In addition, energy firms planned to expand production over the next three months. Filings for intents to drill were up in Oklahoma, and some Colorado contacts noted that companies were exploring the idea of tapping shale oil deposits in northwestern Colorado. Energy companies continued to report that financing was readily available, but production was constrained by a lack of qualified workers and the availability of equipment.” The St. Louis region, meanwhile, includes the Fayetteville shale play, and the regional bank had no comment on drilling affecting its area, which is Arkansas, northern Mississippi, Missouri and some parts of neighboring states. The Cleveland-region bank, whose area includes Ohio and the western Pennsylvania coalbed-methane and Marcellus shale plays, reports, “Oil, gas and coal production has been steady to increasing during the past six weeks. Looking forward, almost all our contacts told us that they expect to see a rise in production levels due to increased demand. Reports indicate that spot and contract prices have increased across the board, together with equipment and materials costs. Capital expenditures were on plan or slightly higher than projected. “Half of our respondents told us they expect to increase the number of capital projects in the upcoming months. Most producers reported that credit remains readily available. "Almost all oil and gas producers hired additional employees during the past six weeks or plan to expand payrolls in the near future. Wage pressures are an issue due to competition for skilled workers.” –Nissa Darbonne, Executive Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, A&D Watch,;