While the US and the world are gnashing their teeth over the current economic crisis, I’m here to remind those of you in the exploration business that it’s been worse. Much worse.

Pundits have their benchmarks as to the success of the oil and gas industry, and I have mine. One of the most obvious is the size (we call it “slap factor”) of E&P. When times are good, more folks advertise, and the folio goes up accordingly.

But other benchmarks exist as well. I once wrote a column that attempted to gauge the general health of the industry by tallying the increase in Cadillac sales in Midland, Texas. I’ve lived in oil towns most of my adult life, and the size of the telephone directory is also a pretty good indicator.

The most recent benchmark is the show paper we produce for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists every year. It was not too long ago that we were lucky to have enough ad support for an 8-page daily. Then we ooched up to 12, then 16. The past couple of years they’ve each been 24 pages long.

This year is exciting because it’s not just the ads that have been strong; it’s also the editorial support that we receive from exhibitors. Since we have a small staff and can’t possibly fill 24 pages on our own, we invite folks from industry to contribute articles about their technologies. This year has seen such tremendous support, and the technologies being described are truly ground-breaking. For those of you going to the SEG annual meeting this year, be sure to spend some time on the exhibit floor. It’s going to be a great show.