Two years ago, the U.S. fracking industry was trying to recover from the crash in the price of oil. Shale companies were promoting the idea that fracking was viable even at low oil prices (despite losing money when oil prices were high). At the time, no one was making money fracking with the business-as-usual approach, but then the Wall Street Journal published a story claiming all of this was about to change because the industry had a trump card — and that was technology.
Today, frackers are again relying on technology as a financial savior, but this time, they are looking to Microsoft.
As ExxonMobil embarks on an ambitious move into fracking in the Permian oil fields of West Texas, it has announced a partnership with Microsoft to use cloud technology to analyze oil field data and optimize operations. Exxon claims the move could generate “billions in net cash flow.”
Time will tell if the Microsoft cloud will make Exxon rain profits in the Permian.
In March 2017, the Wall Street Journal ran an article with the headline, “Fracking 2.0: Shale Drillers Pioneer New Ways to Profit in Era of Cheap Oil,” which detailed the ways the shale industry expected technology could help it finally deliver profits. The article mentioned “longer, supersize wells” and said, “The promise of this new phase is potentially as significant as the original revolution.”
The article highlighted EOG Resources (as in, Enron Oil and Gas), a company often touted as the “Apple of oil,” and quoted the company’s chief information officer saying that technology advances allowed its employees to work at the “speed of thought.”
It also reported that Chesapeake Energy was betting on these new supersize wells as part of its “turnaround strategy.” Chesapeake needed to “turnaround” from losing money and move in the direction of profits.
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