In October 1973, Egypt and Syria led the Yom Kippur War against Israel, and the broader global implications that would reverberate for decades quickly became apparent.

With the dominance of the so-called Seven Sisters cartel now in decline, the five-year-old Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), essentially led by Saudi Arabia, launched an oil embargo crisis that same month to punish Western nations supporting Israel. The spiked gasoline prices, fuel shortages and miles-long lines of cars are seared into the memories of those who experienced them.

It was during this first oil shock period in late 1973 when Don Hart quietly founded Hart Publications in Denver. He started with buying the Western Oil Reporter and Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Directory publications.

Fast forward 50 years, and Israel is again at war and Saudi Arabia is still playing a major role in crude oil controls, currently holding back production to keep barrels priced higher.

But, as the infamous phrase goes in the energy sector, “This time it’s different.”

In 1973, U.S. production was in a steady decline after peaking in 1970 at 10 MMbbl/d, unable to keep pace with rising demand and population growth, forcing greater reliance on Middle Eastern supplies. U.S. crude imports had almost doubled from 1970 to 1973, making the U.S. more vulnerable to embargoes.

U.S. production would eventually bottom out at less than 4 MMbbl/d during the 2008 Great Recession. But, in the background, the shale revolution had already begun—led by George Mitchell, the “father of fracking,” and others—first with natural gas in the Barnett Shale before moving to tight oil and, eventually, the powerful Permian Basin.

Today, the industry has recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and is now churning out record volumes of oil and gas, with crude hitting an all-time high of 13.2 MMbbl/d this fall, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Now, the U.S. is exporting roughly 4 MMbbl/d—nearly the same as overall output 15 years ago.

As for Hart Energy, the flagship Oil and Gas Investor magazine was founded in 1981 and continued to grow. Don Hart conceived the magazine as the “National Geographic of the oil and gas industry”—essentially a coffee table-friendly trade magazine that didn’t read like a technical journal. In fact, he developed the plans with former National Geographic photographer Lowell Georgia, who stuck with Hart and didn’t retire until 2011.

Hart Energy expanded both nationwide and internationally with magazines and conferences, eventually opening a satellite branch as far off as Australia, and moving the headquarters to Houston.

But, while Hart Energy maintains strong international coverage, the bread and butter has always been U.S. oil and gas. And that’s not changing, even as the company chronicles the energy evolution and decarbonization efforts.

In the past 50 years, Hart Energy chronicled the recoveries from the 1970s-era oil embargoes through the growth and ingenuity of U.S. wildcatters and offshore explorers. More recently, the focus is on the shale pioneers from Appalachia to the Permian.

It is in that spirit that Hart Energy takes the opportunity provided by its 50th anniversary to introduce its inaugural Hall of Fame class, showcasing 50 initial icons of the industry, ordered A to Z—from famed oil well firefighter “Red” Adair to former Range Resources chief geologist Bill Zagorski, the “father of the Marcellus.”

Hart Energy is recognizing the people and companies who helped craft the last 50 years of the industry and, thus, the world. The Hall of Fame will continue to grow each year.

Looking forward, Hart Energy also is honoring 19 ACEs—Agents of Change in Energy—who are shaping both the present and the future of the energy sector. They are leading the next iterations of the shale boom, finance, carbon management and much more to make the industry viable and sustainable for the long term. From carbon capture and sequestration to literally sucking carbon of the sky with direct air capture, there are plenty of exciting innovations occurring now and in the near future.

This issue also will trace the history of the industry since 1973, examining the key events, trends, mergers and technological advancements that paved the way to today.

Hart Energy is incredibly proud to have played a role in chronicling this history, and we all are excited to participate in the growth and advancements going forward for the next 50 years.

Thanks so much for reading, and please enjoy.