Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

Editor-in-Chief's Page

Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

Editor-in-Chief's Page

Article excerpt

No man more singularly embodied the American oil industry in the first half of the twentieth century than Everette Lee DeGolyer. According to Dan Yergin, DeGolyer was more responsible than any other person for the introduction of geophysics into oil exploration. After pioneering development of the seismograph and championing its use, DeGolyer was called to Washington in World War II to be one of the chief deputies in the Petroleum Administration for War and ultimately was given a special mission: to appraise the oil potential of Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Persian Gulf.

More important than any specific numbers was DeGolyer's overall judgment of the significance of such huge oil reserves. In 1944, he declared "[t]he center of gravity of world oil production is shifting from the Gulf-Caribbean area to the Middle East." Yergin noted that DeGolyer's' judgment was, among other things, "a eulogy for America's receding place in world oil-the end of its dominion."

My, how times have changed.

The resurgence in U.S. energy was propelled by a group of brash wildcatters, many of whom operated on the fringes of the oil industry. Chief among them was George P. Mitchell, whose employees spent almost two decades trying to coax natural gas from Mitchell Energy's Texas shale fields. In 1998, one of Mitchell's engineers figured out how to properly fracture shale, thus (according to the author, Gregory Zuckerman) stunning colleagues and larger competitors while launching the American energy revolution. …

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