In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama offered an optimistic appraisal of the future prospects for the country’s oil and gas sector, pointing to rising production levels as evidence that “we’re finally poised to control our own energy future.”
“Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy,” President Obama told members of Congress and the public on Tuesday night. To make this point, he cited a number of encouraging statistics.
The president seemed particularly pleased to announce that domestic oil production is currently at a 15-year high, while we produce more natural gas than at any point in U.S. history.
Of course, critics of the Obama Administration’s policies are quick to point out that the surge in production has taken place largely as a result of initiatives launched by companies in the private sector. But, what exactly was it that made it possible for the U.S. energy industry to turn around decades of declining production levels? Let’s take a closer look.
What’s driving the rapid increase in U.S. oil and gas production?
As we’ve previously discussed, the major gains in domestic fossil fuel extraction that we’ve seen in recent years have been driven primarily by breakthroughs in the development of new oil production equipment.
Modern drilling tools have enabled companies to tap previously inaccessible reserves locked deep inside shale or other rock formations. Meanwhile, advanced hydraulic lift equipment has enabled producers to extract oil more quickly, efficiently and safely than was possible in the past.
The federal government has played a role in enabling the so-called “shale revolution” to take place. As the president noted during his State of the Union speech, “much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together.”
Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell, a former petroleum engineer, to be the next secretary of the interior, appeared to be a recognition of this fact. Jewell’s experience in the oil and gas sector has been highlighted as a key qualification by several industry stakeholders. She is also known to be an avid outdoors enthusiast who is dedicated to the principle of conservation.
Achieving high production levels while protecting the environment
The protection of the environment is one area that continues to be critically important for both the Obama Administration and the country at large.
New drilling techniques and technologies have unlocked massive new energy reserves, which U.S. oil and gas companies are eager to extract. At the same time, while these companies search for the fuels that will drive future economic growth, they have a responsibility to ensure that they are acting with careful attention to mitigating the environmental impact of their operations.
This is especially true with regard to newer methods such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Properly managing the frac flowback process is critical for preventing fracking chemicals, fossil fuels or other substances from being released into drinking water supplies or wildlife habitats.
Companies that are interested in upgrading their equipment should consider the benefits of implementing modern artificial lift solutions, such as a hydraulic jet pump. This equipment can help energy producers achieve maximum output from new or established oil and gas wells.