A Free-Market Energy Blog

Oil and Gas Breakthroughs (Continual Improvement)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 8, 2024

Hydraulic Fracturing, Horizontal Drilling, Supercomputers, Seismic Imaging, Smart PIGS, Drones and Robots, Water Recycling, Cloud Computing, Gas Imaging/VR, and Mobile Data/Internet of Things. These “top ten” categories explain why dilute, intermittent substitutes are government plays. A tip of the hat goes to the private property, free-market center of the oil and gas universe, the United States.

It is easy to brag when you are the victor. The victor over depletion, pollution, and the hazards of nature. I was reminded of this upon reading a study put out by Texans for Natural Gas, entitled “The Greatest Story Never Told: Technology, Innovation, and American Oil & Gas.”

The Introduction and Conclusion of this study follow.

Over the past century, a stunning series of technological advances have transformed the oil and gas industry. While numerous innovations have influenced American production, a handful of key technologies have had an outsized impact, culminating in the United States becoming the world’s largest oil and gas producer. This position has not only strengthened U.S. energy security by decreasing our reliance on foreign energy resources, but has allowed the United States to become an increasingly important energy exporter.

This report examines how innovation across the oil and gas industry has driven the United States to become a global leader in energy. The report begins with two key technologies that served as inflection points in America’s rise as an energy powerhouse: hydraulic fracturing and horizontal directional drilling. As the industry continues to evolve, innovation is increasingly focused on minimizing environmental impacts, by mitigating emissions and using water more efficiently. The final section of the report details how energy companies are partnering with Silicon Valley on cutting-edge technologies aimed at improving efficiency, reducing costs, and enhancing safety – all while increasing production.

Overall, technological advances in the oilfield are helping the United States reach new heights in oil and gas production, improving American energy security and driving growth in energy exports. In fact, thanks to technological advances in production, the Permian Basin in West Texas became the top producing oilfield in the world in May 2019, reaching 4.1 million barrels per day (b/d). Additionally, increased domestic natural gas production, similarly bolstered by advanced technology, allowed the United States to become a net natural gas exporter in 2017, a status it has retained ever since. American oil and gas production is a high-tech industry where innovation is constantly delivering the energy we all demand for a lower cost and with a smaller environmental footprint. The significance of this innovation will only grow as the United States reasserts itself in the global energy market not just as a major producer, but also as one of the world’s largest exporters of both oil and gas.


Thanks to oilfield innovation over the past several decades, the United States has become a global energy powerhouse. Directional drilling, which evolved into horizontal drilling, enabled oil and gas producers to minimize surface impacts while maximizing production volumes. This feat of technology was married with hydraulic fracturing to unlock the vast U.S. shale formations and ushered in record-breaking production that has positioned the United States as a driver of the global energy market. This record-breaking development, in turn, has improved our nation’s energy security, greatly decreasing America’s reliance on foreign oil and gas while also bolstering U.S. exports.

Operators today are focused on meeting the world’s growing energy demands while also protecting the planet. A multitude of technologies continue to reduce emissions, even as production grows. This is in addition to the nearly 2.4 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions that natural gas has prevented in the U.S. since 2005. Further, energy producers are implementing new technologies and best practices to limit freshwater use, turning to recycling and reusing greater percentages of produced water in their operations.

Looking to the future, the industry will maintain its position as a technological leader, making use of powerful computing and artificial intelligence technologies, state-of-the-art sensors and imaging, and cutting-edge robotics and autonomous vehicles. Partnerships with other innovators in Silicon Valley will ensure that the oil and gas industry remains on the cutting edge of new technologies.

The story of America’s rise to global energy dominance is a story of innovation. It’s a story of using technology to turn the impossible into the possible, and then leveraging those same technologies to address environmental concerns. As the next chapters unfold in America’s energy landscape, newer technologies and processes will deliver greater resources with even less impact, all while ensuring America retains its capacity for energy dominance.

One Comment for “Oil and Gas Breakthroughs (Continual Improvement)”

  1. John W. Garrett  

    Send a copy to NPR, PBS, the WaPo and Pravda (a/k/a the New York Times).


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