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Mike Lennox, district manager with the energy exploration firm Helmerich and Payne, drives his pickup toward Rig 312, about 7 miles southeast of Garden City, Texas, (population 312). The drilling rig is one of thousands seeking oil in the Permian Basin, an oil-and-gas-producing area located in West Texas and part of New Mexico. H&P, which is subcontracting for Laredo Petroleum, is drilling the well, then will pull out and turn the operation to a "fracking" subcontractor before Laredo begins harvesting the oil.

Jim Seida | NBC News