Find a back issue

George Mitchell, R.I.P.

The pioneer oilman, who from the 1970s was determined to reach the oceans of energy buried under the Barnett Shale, died on July 26. Here’s an appreciation of his achievement from The Economist. What I didn’t know:

His father was a poor Greek immigrant, a goatherd who later ran a shoeshine shop in Galveston, Texas. Mr Mitchell had to work his way through university, but graduated top of his class…He did not discover shale gas and oil: geological surveys had revealed them decades before he started. He did not even invent fracking: it had been in use since the 1940s. But few great entrepreneurs invent something entirely new. His greatness lay in a combination of vision and grit: he was convinced that technology could unlock the vast reserves of energy in the Barnett Shale beneath Dallas and Fort Worth, and he kept grappling with the unforgiving rock until it eventually surrendered its riches.