How should we quantify the importance of the shale energy industry to the U.S.?
If we quantify the importance of shale energy by the job count, energy produced or economic impact, then shale energy is undeniably important. If we value the industry by it’s ability to reduce the amount of foreign-based crude oil imports, then the importance of shale will truly be realized in 2037, the year when the U.S. Energy Information Administration believes U.S.-based crude production—led by shale-based production—will eliminate the need for oil imports.
Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources Inc., wants us to think about shale energy, particularly horizontal drilling, in a broader context of importance. For Hamm, shale energy, and it’s greatest asset—horizontal drilling—has changed the world. He told a massive crowd of attendees just that last week in Denver. I was sitting near the front row of chairs, frantically making notes and that is the one line I had underlined multiple times. “We have changed the world,” Hamm said. By we, he meant Williston Basin operators and Continental Resources.
The change he is talking about was seen in a billboard he seemed to proudly display on his PowerPoint presentation. The billboard was simple, and contained only four lines of text, one on top of the other. The image appeared like this:
The Light Bulb
Kudos to his marketing team, or whomever crafted the text. It seems to provide the best way to quantify what shale energy means to the U.S., without any amazing bar charts or 30-page whitepapers.