CUSHING, Okla. – It was sundown when Nat Ninness, 28, drove up the gravel road between an oil tank farm and his sister’s house. Ninness is a driller who lives a mile away, and for years he has traveled out of town for work.

Now, however, some companies are drilling near here again, using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to explore areas that haven’t been big oil producing places for decades.

“It’s worth my while to come home now,” he said, leaning out the window of his pickup truck with the giant storage tanks lit up behind him by the setting sun. He is working on a well nearby, he said. Other people were finding local work again, too. A welder, a friend of his sister’s, was making $4,000 a week, Ninness said.

So far, this area isn’t considered a hot fracking prospect. Not yet, anyway. The downtown area is moribund. Until that changes, oil workers from this area will continue flocking to places like North Dakota, Ninness said.

“I had some buddies who went chasing around up there,” he said. “One buddy told his girlfriend he was going for a four-week hitch, and she hasn’t heard from him for three months.”