Key Technologies Drove U.S. to Energy Dominance

Wed, January 08, 2020


A handful of key technologies have been critical to the United States becoming the world’s largest oil and gas producer, according to a new whitepaper by Texans for Natural Gas. The report examines how innovation and cutting-edge technologies implemented across multiple supply chains have solidified America’s position as a global energy leader.


The whitepaper, The Greatest Story Never Told: Technology, Innovation, and American Oil & Gas, examines technological breakthroughs in development, from the evolution of directional drilling to the use of cloud computing in today’s drilling operations. Beginning with the two technologies that kicked off America’s rise as an energy powerhouse, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the report then looks at the continued evolution of technology in the oilfield, which is minimizing environmental impacts and increasing efficiency.



  • HORIZONTAL DRILLING MADE POSSIBLE BY NEW TECH: In the early days of drilling, oil and natural gas producers could only drill one way: what they perceived as straight down. Horizontal drilling was an incredible technological leap - made possible by downhole cameras, specialized drill bits, and later, cutting-edge software.
  • ADVANCED WATER MANAGEMENT: Oil & natural gas operators in the Permian Basin are using new technologies, as well as improving existing ones, to make water recycling and reuse more common and cost effective. For example, innovation in water management practices and fracking fluid chemistry has allowed Texas operators to reuse millions of gallons of produced water – even those with very high salinity (up to >220,000 mg/liter TDS) – for fracking operations.
  • PIONEERS OF THE SUPER COMPUTER: Dating back to at least the 1980s, the oil and natural gas sector has turned to supercomputers to crunch vast amounts of data. More recently, major producers have unveiled some of the fastest supercomputers on earth, such as BP’s Center for High-Performance Computing in Houston, Tex., or Eni’s HPC4 supercomputer in Milan, Italy, which can process 100,000 reservoir models in just over 15 hours.
  • SILICON VALLEY MEETS THE PERMIAN BASIN: From “smart PIGs” and robotic tank inspectors, to gas cloud imaging, drones, machine learning, and real-time communication across equipment through the Internet of Things, oil and gas companies are more “Silicon Valley” than some would think. Using these technologies, operators are able to increase production efficiency, reduce emissions, improve safety and more accurately determine where resources are located.


“Over the past century, innovators willing to stand at the forefront of engineering and technology have always played a critical role in oil and gas development, but never has their role been more critical than during America’s rise as an energy superpower,” said Elizabeth Caldwell, spokesperson for Texans for Natural Gas. “This in-depth look at the array of technologies used by operators in both Texas and the rest of the country confirms what we already knew: the cutting edge of technological innovation is occurring in the American oilfield.”