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Follows the money, not the technology
on 22 October 2014
How did the US go from being in huge energy deficit to potential exporter in a decade? This book takes five examples. Two of them are proper oilmen, two of them are chancers with some vague understanding of geology, one of them has never been near a well and I couldn't really work out why he was in the book at all.
If you want a book to explain the techniques of hydraulic fracturation, directional and horizontal drilling, etc. that revolutionised US oil and gas production after years of decline then this book is not for you. Zuckerman is pretty ropy on the technology and never interviewed (it seems) the real pioneers: those who advanced survey and drilling techniques.
It is unlikely that the US will be a template for a shale revolution elsewhere in the world. Ownership issues and environmental activism are big disincentives in Europe but the biggest problem is investment. The US threw a shedload of money at the problem and eventually cracked it. Capital markets elsewhere are weaker. Zuckerman writes from the Wall Street Journal perspective (stock prices are key) in the Journal's standard in-house style for "colour" pieces. None the worse for that. But this is a book about finance, not technology.