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HOUSTON -- George P. Mitchell has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gas Technology Institute. The founder of Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., Mitchell received the prestigious honor for pioneering hydraulic fracturing and drilling technologies that created a shale gas revolution, according to the company.
Mitchell was given the award at the "Global Unconventional Gas 2010: Unlocking Your Potential" conference, as energy professionals from around the world met June 16, in Amsterdam.
"I'm truly honored to be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gas Technology Institute. I believe that the United States should examine all forms of natural gas in order to ease our dependence on coal and foreign oil," Mitchell said in a released statement. "It is my hope that my efforts will aid the search for new and unconventional energy sources that can be used by my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
A petroleum engineer with geology training from Texas A&M University, Mitchell believed natural gas could be extracted from shale when no one else did. Not wanting his oil wells to go to waste in the event of flow shortages, Mitchell had his employees drill into an area known as the Barnett Shale for hydrocarbons. Despite the cautioning of his engineers that the endeavor could prove futile, Mitchell gave the order to fracture the rock, according to the company.
The company invested more than 30 wells to test different processes of hydraulic fracturing, with some wells' production barely even covering the cost of operation. Yet Mitchell remained steadfast, continuing to analyze test results that yielded the greatest return, and eventually completed the first successful instance of using hydraulic fracturing to drill into shale for natural gas. The results were staggering -- many experts believe the Barnett Shale may be the largest onshore natural gas field in the United States, containing more than an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.