The U.S. has a central role to play in global oil and natural gas production. Through innovation, technology and some of the best hydrocarbon-bearing rocks in the world, the U.S. has become one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas.
Since the 1970s, U.S. consumers have feared there won’t be enough energy to meet consumer demand. That has changed. We’ve known for a number of years that we have an abundance of natural gas. Now we also know we can recover plenty of oil to meet the needs of current and future generations. The U.S. now ranks as the world’s top natural gas producer and the second-largest oil producer – and may soon pass Saudi Arabia as the top producer.
We knew for years that shale rock contains oil and natural gas that was too “tight” (or impermeable) to allow commercial production. Ongoing research and development optimized two key innovations. The first was hydraulic fracturing – also known as “fracking” – injecting water under high pressure to create narrow micro fissures in the rock. Since the late 1940s it has been used safely in more than a million wells. Separate research during the 1980s made it possible to drill wells that curve out laterally, thus gaining exposure to more potentially productive rock than was possible with conventional vertical wells. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal wells were first combined in shale wells in the late 1990s to enable commercial production.
Read more in a recent presentation.