“It'll never happen. Not in a million years.”
It was too early in the morning to argue with the man.
Luckily, I happened to agree with him.
We were making our way north on U.S. Route 59, and the sun hadn't yet shone its face.
I'd brought up the ban on hydraulic fracturing that was recently approved in Vermont, and my friend — a man who's been working on a drilling rig for the better part of his life — was having a good laugh over it.
When I mentioned New Jersey, he let out a roar.
“That's rich,” he remarked.
“I'd like to see them try to impose a ban in some place that actually mattered.”
I'll admit I expected that kind of sentiment coming from him.
He's been working the same Texas oil fields where more than two and a half million barrels of crude flowed back in the 1970s.
He was there when production started to waver, and he stuck around for the steep decline:
All it took was one phone call from him for me to catch the next flight to Houston...
I knew this opportunity was too good to pass up.
Tight Oil and Gas Rush
According to EIA data, U.S. oil output has topped six million barrels per day. We haven't seen production levels that high since 1998!
It's good news any way you slice it, and it's primarily thanks to these tight oil and gas plays sprouting up across North America:
But it seems nothing goes off without a hitch — and our domestic oil boom is no exception...
The Downside of the Shale Revolution
By coupling horizontal drilling techniques with hydraulic fracturing, we've finally seen some positive news for U.S. oil production, reversing a decades-long decline and unlocking billions of new barrels of supply.
But both my friend and I have seen the downside of shale production...
I myself had the distinct pleasure of witnessing the recent fracking protests firsthand.
And having worked in the Texas oil and gas fields since he was a teenager, my buddy has seen his share of wastewater ponds.
But he isn't overly concerned about the water issue surrounding fracking.
What he said during our drive was enough to pique my interest: “I'm not worried in the least — and neither will you be after today.”
Think Bigger, Invest Better
There's no question that we have the resources.
Now it's all about finding more efficient ways to produce them.
If there's one thing we've tried to get across to readers, it's that technology will be the lynchpin for the U.S. oil and gas industry going forward.
And the area ripest for change right now is in finding an alternative to hydraulic fracturing, a method we've been using for the past six decades.
Hydraulic fracturing has its issues — particularly when it comes to that ever-precious resource, water.
Natural gas production from the Barnett shale play alone used more than 450 billion gallons of water in 2006.
Imagine the ramifications of waterless fracturing technology...
It would mean no more wastewater ponds; conserving twelve million gallons of water per well that is hydraulic fractured; and even eliminating the massive truck traffic that comes with hauling three million pounds of sand to the rig site.
My friends, not only is this a possibility...
It's happening right now.
It's one of the reasons I was driving a pickup truck around Texas that day: I was doing my homework on a company sitting on the solution to the fracking equation.
This company set up shop in the United States less than a year ago, and their new fracturing technique is starting to make the major shale players rethink their drilling and completing options.
Until next time,
A true insider in the energy markets, Keith is one of few financial reporters to have visited the Alberta oil sands. His research has helped thousands of investors capitalize from the rapidly changing face of energy. Keith connects with hundreds of thousands of readers as the Managing Editor of Energy & Capital as well as Investment Director of Angel Publishing's Energy Investor. For years, Keith has been providing in-depth coverage of the Bakken, the Haynesville Shale, and the Marcellus natural gas formations — all ahead of the mainstream media. For more on Keith, go to his editor's page.