The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

America’s Energy Success

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted November 22, 2013

Fracktacular: Oil and Natural Gas Offer a Glimpse of America’s Powers of Regeneration

The Economist:  THE FIRST GUSHERS sprayed oil into the skies of Texas, Ohio and California more than a century ago. America has relentlessly drained its reservoirs of oil and gas ever since. In 1986, seeing the flow begin to slow, Robin West founded PFC Energy to advise oil people how to take capital out of the American industry and invest it in newer prospects abroad. As he leaves the company 27 years later, he is amazed to see the money flowing back in record amounts.

In 2006 America’s production of oil and natural gas fell to the equivalent of about 15m barrels of oil a day (b/d). An analysis by the Wall Street Journal recently estimated output today at over 22m b/d—close to surpassing the world’s largest producer, Russia, if it has not already done so. The extra oil comes from shale and sandstone. Estimates of the amount of oil they contain vary hugely, but Navigant, a consultancy, reckons that North America could produce anything from 26.9-53.5 trillion cubic metres of shale gas alone, enough to satisfy the world’s total current demand for gas for up to 15 years, though at today’s prices not all of it would yet be worth extracting.

It is a very American success. Geologists have long known that these reserves existed, but they could not get at them. A combination of innovation (hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”), finance and enterprise have now opened them up, often to small oil and gas firms with low costs. 

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Mary Schaper is a Digital Communications Manager for the American Petroleum Institute. She previously worked on Capitol Hill for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as Digital Director and for Senator Lisa Murkowski. Before coming to D.C., she spearheaded digital strategy for Murkowski's successful Senate write-in campaign in 2010. Schaper enjoys traveling and taking in the local culture alongside her husband, their son and loyal springer spaniel.