George Mitchell spent a lot of time and certainly a lot of money trying to crack the secret of the Barnett Shale. And even after he found success, many people doubted that this whole unconventional thing would ever amount to much.

We’ve learned a thing or two since then. In North America alone, McKinsey Energy Insights estimates U.S. shale oil production will reach about 9 MMbbl/d by 2025. Total capex will grow at 25% per year through 2021, and drilling and completions will grow by 20% per year over that same time frame. Even as shale plays tipped the balance of supply and demand, operators found ways to do things for less, and McKinsey’s “North American Shale Oil Perspective” report noted that the Permian Basin’s core breakeven price is less than $41/bbl in 2017.

The October cover stories contain a snapshot of just how creative operators and service companies have become in tackling these challenging plays.

This month's cover story topic was shales. Read each of article:

When is a major not a major?

Using buoyancy-assisted casing equipment to extend lateral reach

Increasing reliability in expandable liners