Not long ago, a colleague turned me on to a terrific book about the history of Fracking and the men who shaped the industry as we know it today. That
book was The Frackers, and it is a detailed narrative of the breakthroughs that led to the most important energy renaissance in the last 50 years.
The book covers the exploits of about a dozen individuals, but for this podcast, we are focusing on four of the largest personalities:
- George Mitchell–Founder of Mitchell Energy and widely regarded as the “Father of Fracking.” Mitchell believed in the Barnett Shale for years before he was ultimately proved correct by one of his engineers. When they used water instead of complicated hydraulic chemicals, fracked Mitchell wells produced more oil & gas than ever before.
- Harold Hamm–CEO of Continental Resources. Hamm came from humble beginnings to become one of the richest men in America. He is largely credited with combining fracking with horizontal drilling, as well as the development of North Dakaota’s Bakken Shale region, one of the richest Oil & Gas deposits in the country. Hamm has served as an energy advisor on Mitt Romney and Donald Trump’s campaigns.
- Charif Souki–Co-founder and former CEO of Cheniere Energy. Souki was a former Wall Street banker and restaurateur (his L.A.-based restaurant was tied to the O.J. Simpson murders) before he became enamored with liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. But when fracking exploded on the scene, his LNG terminals were designed for imports. With clever financing, we was able to bankroll some expensive retrofits and position Cheniere as a global player in the energy marketplace.
- Aubrey McClendon–Co-founder, former CEO and Chairman of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest Oil & Gas exploration companies. McClendon often served as the face of the fracking industry, and is credited for much of its rise. However, his bold leadership style eventually caught up with him. He was indicted by a federal grand jury for antitrust violations in March 2016 and died in a car accident one day later.
I reached out to the author, Gregory Zuckerman, and was able to interview him over the phone from his home in New Jersey one Friday afternoon. Greg has written three books, including The Frackers. He has been a reporter for the Wall Street Journal since 1996.
We discussed each of these men and some of the characteristics that defines them all. I was also fascinated by his motivations to head out of the city and into the oilpatch. I’ve also been fascinated by the process authors take to get 400+ pages out of a single story.