In August, I along with more than 5,000 others attended the second annual Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) in Denver. It was a fabulous meeting with numerous presentations that represented integrated geoscience and engineering studies.
One of the main messages speakers conveyed in the opening plenary session, “Using Science and Integrated Technologies to Develop Unconventional Plays,” was the need for sustainable development – and that many of the challenges facing continued development of our unconventional resources are above ground.
Indeed, we must address the various issues related to water, to impacts on our environment (such as air pollution, noise and footprint size) and various other concerns of the public.
This same message was conveyed by a number of presenters throughout the meeting, as well as by company representatives who spoke to the media during various press conferences held as part of URTeC.
Also presented in the opening plenary was a short video on the late George Mitchell – and a longer version was available to watch throughout the conference in the exhibition hall.
Prior to watching this video I was aware of Mitchell’s accomplishments and the breadth of his business endeavors, but had not appreciated that he was a visionary who pursued a dream of global sustainability including, but not limited to, delivering sustainable energy to an energy hungry world.
I knew Mitchell was behind the development of The Woodlands near Houston, but I didn’t know The Woodlands was a planned development that represented his vision of a sustainable community in harmony with the environment.
I didn’t know he founded the Houston Advanced Research Center, a not-for-profit dedicated to improving human and ecosystem wellbeing through the application of sustainability science and principles of sustainable development.
I didn’t know about the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and its focus on sustainability. According to his granddaughter and Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation president and treasurer Katherine Lorenz, sustainability was a focus for George throughout his life – and one that he instilled in members of his family.
Human, environmental sustainability and energy sustainability were at the core of Mitchell’s vision and his values.
I find it ironic that George Mitchell, the “father of hydraulic fracturing technology” (aka, “father of fracing”), a technology that so many people fear or hate because of its perceived negative environmental impact, was so passionate about the environment and sustainability.
This is a message we need to convey.
I’m gratified to know that the sustainability message is something that’s being strongly promoted by our industry as evidenced during the URTeC meeting, but we need to do more to get this information to our families, friends, neighbors, teachers, policy makers and the public at large.
I encourage you to watch this video, which soon will be made available by Studio W Productions.
I believe after watching it you will come to appreciate that George Mitchell was much more than a persistent, astute businessman and savvy petroleum explorer and producer whose persistent acumen lead to the unlocking of the shale plays. George Mitchell was a visionary who recognized we must work to ensure society’s sustainability, long before sustainability became popular.
The best way to honor Mitchell is to embrace and carry on his vision of sustainable development.
Can you imagine a society that views the petroleum industry as protectors of the environment and champions of sustainable development rather than destroyers?
Let’s work to make it happen.