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Upending the U.S. Energy Sector

As the shale-gas boom enters its second decade, can the growth be sustained?

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In the 1990s, developing a way to economically extract shale gas in the United States was but a pet science project of a few geologists, engineers, and one visionary. Shale gas was very difficult to obtain and expensive to get, after all. It's in low permeability rock formations deep underground. Gas and oil molecules have a very hard time traveling through the rock into the wellbore. But when Texas oilman George Mitchell and company figured out how to combine two old technologies--horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing--the key to shale gas was unlocked. They ignited a shale-gas boom that has transformed the industry in the United States.

To understand how shale gas is affecting the U.S. energy sector, I sat down with Morningstar energy analysts Jason Stevens, David McColl, and Mark Hanson. Our discussion took place Feb. 11 and has been edited for clarity and length.

Basili Alukos does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.