What is the issue?

Many issues were present in the unconventional oil and gas development industry in early 2017. Today, with some issues still lingering and new issues starting to emerge, the real question is this: Is there an issue that the shale can't overcome?
By Luke Geiver | July 11, 2017

Many issues were present in the unconventional oil and gas development industry when 2017 opened. Frack sand was in heavy demand but short in supply. A second OPEC decision on production curtailments was looming. Global oil stockpiles—depending on the week—were either trending down or at a stalemate. Drilling rig and completion companies were signing contracts but scrambling to sign staff. Now, halfway through 2017, the storylines linked to those issues have mostly been resolved without a drastic impact on shale. Production is rising, drilling rig counts have risen for at least 21 straight weeks, drilled but uncompleted wells do not garner the same buzz they did a year ago and, global stockpiles are still seesawing depending on the report you read to describe their current state.

Today, with some issues still lingering and new issues starting to emerge, one could argue the real question is this: Is there an issue that the shale industry simply won’t be able to overcome? Based on our work in this month’s magazine, our team would lean towards responding, “no.” As Patrick C. Miller, the always detailed staff writer and photographer for North American Shale magazine, highlighted in his piece on frack sand, the shale industry does well at finding solutions to issues.  Miller spoke in-depth with Mammoth Energy Services, an Oklahoma City-based energy services company that has made many moves this year regarding frack sand. As you’ll read in Miller’s piece, “A Mammoth Frack Sand Expansion,” any notion that a frack sand shortage could become a major issue in shale development this year was dismantled by Mammoth. Of course, this issue of frack sand supply did impact some in the industry and pushed certain groups to build more capacity, but as Mammoth’s example shows, great shale firms will find a way to overcome the issue of the day.

In Texas, the issue of shale—specifically the impact of production efforts on the environment and communities—was the focus of a year-plus research effort led by the state’s premier research organization. We spoke with the shale task force responsible for putting together a 204-page report on the impacts of shale energy development on Texas and broke down or highlighted the major findings from the unique report. Check out the story, “Studies in Texas Shale,” on page 14 to learn what the team of subject-matter experts had to say about shale in relation to the state’s water, land, environment, transportation sector, geology and communities.

And, to demonstrate that our team isn’t always lured into the sexy stories on the latest in drilling or completion trends, we profiled the rise—and transition—of a special oilfield waste company. The story provides a glimpse at what it means to be nimble in the shale world and how many entities have embraced a multi-basin focus that could spread their operations from North Dakota to New Mexico.