Science & Technology

Shale Drilling Pioneer Dies at 94

Developed fracking in the '90s


George P. Mitchell, the Texas billionaire who pioneered shale-drilling techniques that triggered a renaissance in North American oil and natural gas production, has died. He was 94.

He died today at his residence in the Tremont Hotel in Galveston, Texas, according to Franklin "Rusty" Carnes, at the Carnes Brothers Funeral Home in Galveston. He died of natural causes, his family said in a statement.

Mitchell's innovative use of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing in the 1990s to release gas from a previously-impermeable rock formation near Fort Worth, Texas, earned him the nickname the "father of the Barnett Shale." Those drilling breakthroughs revolutionized oil and gas exploration from Pennsylvania to Poland and the Yukon Territory to Argentina.