The fracking technology currently used was invented in 1998

The fracking technology currently used was invented in 1998

Don’t be fooled by the gas industry spin that “fracking has been done safely for decades”. This massive world-wide ‘gas rush’ is happening because George Mitchell figured out how to do it economically in 1998.

George Mitchell is known as the “Father of Fracking” due to his 1998 invention (just over 15 years ago) where he combined the old and uneconomical hydraulic fracturing, with ‘slickwater’ and with ‘horizontal drilling’ … those 3 technologies combined made the process economical and thus fuelled the current world-wide boom in fracking

Sources: The father of fracking (The Economist)

The industry can no longer simply focus on the benefits of shale gas (The Economist)

Shale Gas Revolution (NY Times)

Yes, hydraulic fracturing or fracking by pumping water down a well was done since 1947 – but it was uneconomical and was rarely done.

“In 1998, with Mr Mitchell approaching his 80s, his team hit on the idea of substituting water for gunky drilling fluids. This drastically cut the cost of drilling and turned the Barnett Shale into a gold mine”.

From the 1970s America’s energy industry reconciled itself to apparently inevitable decline.

Analysts produced charts to show that its oil and gas were running out. The big oil firms globalised in order to survive.

But Mr Mitchell was convinced that immense reserves trapped in shale rock deep beneath the surface could be freed.

He did not discover shale gas and oil: geological surveys had revealed them decades before he started. He did not even invent fracking: it had been in use since the 1940s. But few great entrepreneurs invent something entirely new.

He spent decades perfecting techniques for unlocking them: injecting high-pressure fluids into the ground to fracture the rock and create pathways for the trapped oil and gas (fracking) and drilling down and then sideways to increase each well’s yield (horizontal drilling).

“In 1998, with Mr Mitchell approaching his 80s, his team hit on the idea of substituting water for gunky drilling fluids. This drastically cut the cost of drilling and turned the Barnett Shale into a gold mine”.

George Mitchell fused two technologies – hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling and added a cocktail of chemicals to the fracking process which made the process economical.

The result was a revolution. In an interview with The Economist last year Mr Mitchell said he never had any doubt that fracking might turn the American energy market upside down.

But even he was surprised by the speed of the change.

Shale beds now produce more than a quarter of America’s natural gas, compared with just 1% in 2000.

Q. “Are the concerns of environmentalists over fracking justified?

George Mitchell: “As a concerned businessman and philanthropist, I have come to understand that the natural gas industry can no longer simply focus on the benefits of shale gas while failing to address its challenges.

“We know that there are significant impacts on air quality, water consumption, water contamination, and local communities.”

Shale Gas Revolution

November 3, 2011 NYTimes – A few years ago, a business genius named George P. Mitchell helped offer such a gift. As Daniel Yergin writes in “The Quest,” his gripping history of energy innovation, Mitchell fought through waves of skepticism and opposition to extract natural gas from shale.

The method he and his team used to release the trapped gas, called fracking, has paid off in the most immense way.

In 2000, shale gas represented just 1 percent of American natural gas supplies.

Today, it is 30 percent and rising.

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