The pioneer of the world’s shale plays discusses the future of energy development in this exclusive interview with Hart Energy, celebrating the 30th anniversary of his Barnett play opener.

George Mitchell’s advice to oil and gas explorationists? “Be bold.”

The founder of America’s—and now the world’s—unconventional oil and gas plays says the late, legendary explorer Michel Halbouty would rib him decades ago, telling him, “Come on. Explore. Do something.”

Upon discovering how to extract natural gas resources from the Barnett shale after a first well, C.W. Slay No. 1 in Newark East Field, 30 years ago, and hundreds more thereafter, he told Halbouty, “Mike, I found this field because of you.”

He quips in this exclusive interview with Hart Energy for a video tribute that celebrates the 30th anniversary of C.W. Slay, the Barnett play opener, “I’ve been busy now for 60 years, drilling wells all over the country, and now I’ve done something important.”

(Editor’s Note: The 30th anniversary of America’s shale plays will be celebrated at Hart Energy’s sixth annual Developing Unconventional Gas (DUG) conference April 18-20 in Fort Worth with more than 2,000 attendees and a keynote address by President George W. Bush. For conference details and to register, click

The application Mitchell pioneered of horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracturing into the low-permeability, low-porosity shale has re-invented the U.S. natural gas profile. The U.S. led in 2009 for a third consecutive year in percentage increase in gas production, posting 3.5% more than in 2008, according to the annual BP Statistical Review of World Energy published in June 2010.

It has surpassed Russia as the world’s most prolific gas producer.

And, the application of the technology into U.S. oil plays now contributed to the U.S. also posting the largest increase in oil production in 2009. "(Daily) U.S. production increased by 460,000 barrels, or 7%—the largest increase in the world last year and the largest U.S. percentage increase in our data set," the BP Plc analysts report. That data set is of 59 years of world production history.

Mitchell says America could readily use the additional oil that is being produced from horizontal and multi-frac plays. “We have to get more oily and you’ll see a lot of the industry trying to make more oil out of plays…If we have the same information on oil plays right now that we have on the gas plays, we would solve a lot of our oil problems…There’s a lot of work that’s still to be done.”

For more highlights from the exclusive interview with George Mitchell, see this article at

–Nissa Darbonne, Editor-at-Large, Oil and Gas Investor,, Today, Oil and Gas Investor This Week, A&D Watch,, Contact Nissa at