10 October 2013
Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and UT Engineering Professor Michael Webber discusses the factors that contributed to the current surge in U.S. oil and gas production in an article in the October issue of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Magazine. The article can be found online, here.

His article, "Lessons from the Shale Revolution," discusses the confluence of market forces, government policy, and technological innovation that enabled the current shale revolution. Oil and gas production from shale, made possible by hydraulic fracturing, has led to dramatic increases in U.S. oil and gas output in recent years, largely reversing historical declines in production. This reversal has shifted the U.S. energy paradigm from one centered on declining production and increasing consumption to a more positive energy future in which production of nearly all energy resources is increasing.

While all of these increases are impressive, none are more dramatic than the ones seen from oil and gas. Dr. Webber argues that there is no single factor that enabled this turnaround; instead it is due to the combination of market forces, government research and development, and disruptive technologies. He acknowledges that market responses to high oil prices in the last decade focused attention on what was formerly seen as anuneconomic resource. Additionally, forward thinking policies ensured stableresearch and development funding and regulatory certainty, laying the groundwork for shale development to occur. Webber also points to the role of technological innovation in reshaping energy markets and the importance of disruptive technologies in driving forward progress.

Webber ultimately argues that though each factor is a contributing one, all three were necessary ingredients in enabling the shale revolution. This confluence is both unique and important, as Webber concludes "For the first time since the 1960s our energy markets, policies, and technologies are all pointing in the same direction—which is up—and the result is really powerful."