American Elephants


George Mitchell, R.I.P. American Hero. by The Elephant's Child

George Mitchell

More than any other single person, Texas oil man and petrochemical engineer George Mitchell gets the credit for developing the drilling technology known as hydraulic fracturing that has created a shale oil and gas revolution in America, and dramatically changed the global energy landscape in America’s favor. News agencies are reporting that George Mitchell has died at age 94.

The techniques are changing the energy picture of the world.  Britain has discovered big shale deposits, which are a huge boon for a country where many people were suffering from energy poverty. A couple of years ago, retirees were buying used books at jumble sales because they were cheaper to burn than wood or coal.

As the techniques combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling advanced, “Fracking” started unlocking vast deposits of shale oil and gas in America on private lands, where permission from the federal government was not necessary. President Obama remains in pursuit of the last traces of CO² which he calls “carbon pollution.”

The significance of the shale revolution can hardly be overestimated. Beginning in about 2006, domestic production of oil and gas has surged by more than 30% between 2005 and 2012 and completely reversed  a three-decade long decline in production. ( Which partly accounted for the enthusiasm for alternative energy — addiction to foreign oil, you know).

From Bloomberg:

Mitchell’s innovative use of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing in the 1990s to release gas from a previously impermeable rock formation near Fort Worth, Texas, earned him the nickname the “father of the Barnett Shale.” Those drilling breakthroughs revolutionized oil and gas exploration from Pennsylvania to Poland and the Yukon Territory to Argentina.

“My engineers kept telling me, ‘You are wasting your money, Mitchell.’ And I said, Well damn it, let’s figure this thing out, because there is no question there is a tremendous source bed that’s about 250 feet thick.”

From Knox News/ AP:

George P. Mitchell leveraged a penchant for hard work, an appetite for risk and dogged persistence in the face of futility into a technological breakthrough that reshaped the global energy industry and made the wildcat oilman a billionaire. Mitchell, the developer and philanthropist who also is considered the father of fracking, doggedly pursued natural gas he and others knew were trapped in wide, thin layers of rock deep underground. Fracking brought an entirely new — and enormous — trove of oil and gas within reach.

The son of a Greek immigrant who ran a cleaning and shoeshine business in Galveston, Mitchell became one of the wealthiest men in the U.S. and an American hero. His technological breakthrough transformed economies in North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania, and is migrating around the world.

George Mitchell’s life and works contradict every element of Obama’s “fairness doctrine,” his economic policies, and his constant attacks on “the rich.” It is optimistic, hard-working individual liberty and creativity that creates jobs, makes other people rich and makes America an exceptional nation.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Saudi royal and billionaire, thinks the US. shale boom is endangering his country’s economy. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is now pumping at less than its production capacity because consumers are limiting their oil imports. The kingdom is facing a threat since its economy’s near-complete reliance on oil as 92% of this year’s budget depends on oil.




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