The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

America’s Amazing Energy Surge, Thanks to Technology and Innovation

Mary Leshper

Mary Schaper
Posted July 15, 2014

The Real Shale Revolution


Reuters: By now everyone knows the shale revolution was made possible by the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

But although fracking has captured the popular imagination, and is often used as a synonym for the whole phenomenon, horizontal drilling was actually the more recent and important breakthrough.

Mastery of horizontal drilling around 1990, originally for oil rather than gas exploration, was the decisive innovation that lit the long fuse for the shale revolution that erupted 15 years later.

"Horizontal drilling is the real marvel of engineering and scientific innovation," David Blackmon wrote in Forbes magazine last year ("Horizontal drilling: a technological marvel ignored", January 2013).

"While impressive in its own right, the main innovations in fracking have been beefing up the generating horsepower to accommodate horizontal wells rather than vertical ones, and refining of the fluids used to conserve water and create better, longer lasting fractures in the target formation."



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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.