We can thank our lucky stars that the U.S. has become an energy pow­erhouse. This unforeseen event has changed the balance of payments via commodity exports and, in turn, altered the global geopolitical calculus (see the Saudi drone attacks). It is boosting oil town econo­mies and creating jobs (Midland and Odessa perennially rank among the cities with the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S.).

But this lofty perch is beset with threats. These range from government intervention to changing consumer attitudes. Now, there are lawsuits against pipeline construction and against the big banks that fund oil and gas development. Combine all this with a perceived slowdown in oil demand growth, and E&P companies have a lot to think about—all while trying to make a buck and give half of that back to their investors be­fore they bolt.

Here are a few comments we’ve gath­ered that provide insight. First, Ray Walker, the COO of Encino Energy LLC and for­mer COO at Range Resources Corp., was a pioneer in the Marcellus Shale. At Hart Energy’s annual DUG East conference in Pittsburgh earlier this year, he reminded us of some central facts. “The rock rules, no matter how good you think you are as a frack engineer.

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