Texas lawmakers honor ‘father of fracking’


George P. Mitchell helped develop technology that allows oil and gas wells to tap into reserves trapped in underground rock formations.

George P. Mitchell has long been called the "father of fracking." Now, his contribution to the development of hydraulic fracturing is acknowledged as a matter of law in the Lone Star State.

On Monday, the Texas House of Representatives passed a resolution that recognized Mitchell's receipt of the "History-Making Texan Award." The honor has been bestowed on as many as three "living Texas legends" each year since 2005, when President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson were recognized for their achievements.

According to the Texas State History Museum Foundation, the honor is meant to recognize those "whose contributions to the state and the nation have been truly historic and exceptional in scope and nature."

Governor Rick Perry made a rare appearance before the House to add his voice to the collective praise of Mitchell, who is "beyond a visionary" in the eyes of the former Republican presidential candidate.

"That is a man that looks in the mirror every morning and there is no question that he has made a huge difference in our world," Perry said. "Today I wanted to come and join you collectively as this great body and say thank you to one of our great Texans of not just our lifetimes but of the history of this state."

Mitchell's work helped spur today's energy renaissance

The use of hydraulic fracturing has taken off in recent years and the amount of domestic energy that is now in reach as a result is staggering. A report released in April by the Potential Gas Committee asserted that the amount of "technically recoverable" natural gas in the United States increased by as much as 25 percent between 2010 and 2012 as a result of new extraction technologies.

Companies in the industry have been eagerly tapping into these newly accessible reserves. As we noted in a recent post, gas production from the Marcellus shale, driven by fracking, exceeded 7 billion cubic feet per day earlier this year.

The boom spurred by contemporary fracturing technology has been particularly beneficial for Texas, where more than 380,000 people work in the oil and gas industry.

Fracturing must be paired with modern production equipment for best results

While the technologies Mitchell helped develop have made new oil and gas reserves accessible, it is vital for well operators to use the right production equipment in order to get the most out of their properties.

Many companies have found that the hydraulic jet pump can be a particularly valuable addition to their array of production tools. This powerful and versatile solution can be used to quickly complete drill stem testing and initiate production at new sites or improve recovery rates from established wells.

Jet pumps can even be successfully deployed at sites where problems with the completion of well casing would limit the effectiveness of other artificial lift solutions. And with no downhole moving parts, operating the equipment is simple and maintenance needs are minimal. Furthermore, retrieval for optimization can be performed by manipulating surface valves, which obviates the need to use a work over or wire line unit.