Journalism in the Public Interest

Who Are America’s Top 10 Gas Drillers?

Though the industry sometimes touts natural gas drilling as dominated by small businesses, the 10 largest drillers account for one-third of all domestic production.


(LM Otero/AP Photo)

Natural gas—often touted as an abundant, comparatively clean source of domestic energy—has come under intensifying public scrutiny in recent months, with federal regulators and reporters challenging some of the industry's rosy business projections.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing whether gas companies have exaggerated their reserves and have adequately disclosed the risks to investors from drilling's potential environmental damage. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has requested similar information from several companies.

Natural gas production has grown steadily in the United States since 2006, reaching new highs this year. But who are the leaders in this burgeoning field?

More than 14,000 oil-and-gas companies, many of them small businesses, were active in the United States in 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration. But multinational giants like Exxon Mobil and BP now produce much of the nation's gas. The 10 biggest drillers account for one-third of all production, data from the Natural Gas Supply Association and the EIA show. The 40 largest producers pump more than half of all domestic natural gas.

We've compiled a list of the top 10 drillers in the country, ranked by their daily natural gas production, and pulled together some key facts about their operations. Though there are other ways to measure these companies—revenue, market capitalization, reserves—industry experts say production numbers give the best snapshot of today's landscape and also separate drillers' gas operations from oil.

The list features both "integrated" oil-and-gas giants, such as Exxon Mobil, which refines and sells gasoline around the world, and "independents," such as Chesapeake Energy, which are primarily in oil and gas exploration and production. Though industry P.R. initiatives often emphasize independent mom-and-pop drillers, most of the companies on our list are Fortune 500 corporations.

Much of the growth in gas production has come from drilling into shale formations, which provided 23 percent of the nation's gas in 2010, according to the EIA. Our list shows how integrated behemoths have expanded into this area as production has become proven, sometimes by swallowing up independents that led the way. Last year, Exxon (No. 8 in 2009) bought XTO (No. 2 in 2009) to catapult to the top of the list. Also last year, Chevron (No. 9) bought Atlas Energy (No. 50 in 2009 and an early entrant into Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale).

1. Exxon Mobil

The biggest natural gas producer is also the country's biggest oil company and one of the most profitable corporations in the world. Exxon has operations in every continent but Antarctica. Its oil and gas operations range across several states, from Pennsylvania to Colorado, and it also has wells in the Gulf of Mexico and off the California coast.

With the purchase of XTO, Exxon produces nearly 50 percent more gas than its closest competitor. Earlier this year, Exxon began running ads touting natural gas as a safe, clean source of domestic energy. About two-thirds of the company's domestic reserves are now in natural gas, with the rest in oil.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 3.9 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $370 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 8.9 billion barrels of oil (2.3 billion in the U.S.), 2.1 billion barrels of bitumen (none in the U.S.), 681 million barrels of synthetic crude (none in the U.S.), 78.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (26.1 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chairman and CEO since 2006, received almost $29 million in total compensation.

2. Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake calls itself the most active driller in the country, with operations in 15 states, from the Rockies to Texas to Pennsylvania. The company is a good example of how "independent" doesn't necessarily mean small. As of last year, the company owned an interest in 45,800 wells, of which 38,900 were primarily gas wells.

Chesapeake has built itself as a gas company, but it is increasingly looking for "liquids-rich plays," according to its annual report. Gas wells generally produce oil and other hydrocarbon liquids as well in varying amounts, depending on the geologic formation. With oil prices high and gas prices low, many companies are seeking more wells that are oil- and liquids-rich, particularly in North Dakota, southern Texas and Pennsylvania.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 2.6 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $9.4 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 14.3 trillion cubic feet of gas equivalent (10 percent of that is oil or other liquids, converted to the equivalent volume in gas).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Aubrey McClendon, the chairman and CEO, is also the company's founder. He has the unusual option of purchasing a small stake in every well the company drills. He received $21 million in total compensation.

3. Anadarko

Anadarko is one of the biggest independent oil and gas producers in the country, with exploration or production work in all major domestic drilling areas as well as in South America, Africa, Asia and New Zealand. The company was a minority owner in BP's Macondo well, which exploded last year, killing 11 people and spilling more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Worldwide, natural gas makes up just over half of Anadarko's reserves, but 87 percent of the new wells it drilled in the United States last year were gas wells. Like many other companies, Anadarko is increasingly looking for oil- and liquids-rich production this year.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 2.4 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $11 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 749 million barrels of oil and condensate (458 million in the U.S.), 320 million barrels of natural gas liquids (307 million in the U.S.), 8.1 trillion cubic feet of gas, all in the United States.

Executive Compensation, 2010: James Hackett, the chairman and CEO, received $24 million in total compensation.

4. Devon Energy

Devon is an independent driller primarily active in the United States and Canada. The company is in the process of divesting operations in Angola and Brazil, its only holdings outside of North America.

More than 70 percent of Devon's U.S. reserves are in natural gas, with most of that lying in Texas' Barnett Shale. Like its peers, however, Devon says that this year it will focus on drilling in areas rich with oil and other liquids.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 2 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $9.9 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 681 million barrels of oil (148 million in the U.S.), 479 million barrels of natural gas liquids (449 million in the U.S.), 10.3 trillion cubic feet of gas (9 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: J. Larry Nichols, the chairman, received almost $19 million in total compensation. John Richels, president and CEO, received almost $18 million.

5. BP

Fortune lists BP as the fourth-largest corporation in the world. The company drills in 29 countries and sells its products in 70. While BP is headquartered in London, 42 percent of the company's assets are in the United States. BP reported a $3.7 billion loss last year after spending nearly $41 billion on cleaning up the Gulf oil spill and compensating those who were affected.

The company remains primarily an oil producer, with about 40 percent of its reserves in natural gas.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.9 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $297 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 10.7 billion barrels of oil (2.9 billion in the U.S.), 42.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (13.7 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Chief Executive Robert Dudley received $1.7 million in total compensation.

6. Encana

Encana is one of the largest independent gas companies in the world, with operations mostly in the western United States and Canada, where it is based. The company has focused almost exclusively on gas.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.8 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $8.9 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 93.3 million barrels of liquids (38.5 million in the U.S.), 13.8 trillion cubic feet of gas (7.5 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Randy Eresman, president and CEO, received $10 million in total compensation.

7. ConocoPhillips

ConocoPhillips is currently an integrated oil corporation, but it recently announced plans to split into two companies, one focused on refining, the other on production. The company has listed acquiring more shale reserves in North America among its top strategic goals over the past couple of years and drills in several western states, as well as in Louisiana and Arkansas. It is exploring for shale gas in Poland and has operations in six continents.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.6 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $198.7 billion

Reserves, 2010: 3.4 billion barrels of oil and natural gas liquids (1.9 billion in the U.S.), 1.2 billion barrels of bitumen (none in the U.S.), 21.7 trillion cubic feet of gas (10.5 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: James Mulva, chairman and CEO, received almost $18 million in total compensation. John Carrig, who retired as president in March, received more than $14 million.

8. Southwestern Energy Co.

Southwestern is another independent driller that focuses exclusively on natural gas. The company has operations in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, with most of its production coming from the Fayetteville Shale formation underlying parts of Arkansas.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.3 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $2.6 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 1 million barrels of oil, 4.9 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Executive Compensation, 2010: Steven Mueller, president and CEO, received $5.7 million in total compensation.

9. Chevron

Chevron is the second-largest oil company in the country, and the third-biggest company overall in terms of revenue. It has been building its gas reserves recently, most notably with the purchase of Atlas Energy, an active shale gas driller. Still, more than 60 percent of the company's worldwide reserves are in oil.

The majority of Chevron's oil and gas production comes overseas. Domestically, Chevron operates in seven states, including Pennsylvania, Texas and California, and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.3 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $198.2 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 6.5 billion barrels of oil and other liquids (1.3 billion in the U.S.), 24.3 trillion cubic feet of gas (2.5 trillion in the U.S.).

Executive Compensation, 2010: John Watson, chairman and CEO, received $16 million in total compensation.

10. Williams Energy

Williams is an independent producer focused largely on natural gas. It owns 13,900 miles of pipelines, which it says deliver 12 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States. The company recently announced plans to separate its exploration and production activities from its other operations.

Williams has holdings in many of the major shale basins across the country, from Pennsylvania to North Dakota to Texas. The company also owns interests in several international companies.

Average Daily Natural Gas Production: 1.2 billion cubic feet.

Revenue, 2010: $9.6 billion.

Reserves, 2010: 4.3 trillion cubic feet equivalent (3 percent of that is oil or other liquids, converted to the equivalent volume in gas).

Executive Compensation, 2010: Alan Armstrong, president and CEO, received $2 million in total compensation.

Sources: The production numbers are from the Natural Gas Supply Association and reflect the average for the first half of 2011. Revenue figures are from the companies' 2010 annual reports and reflect total revenue from all sources, not just gas production. Revenue may include sales and other income and may not be adjusted for taxes. Reserves numbers are from the companies' annual reports. Bitumen and synthetic crude represent oil from Canadian tar sands or other unconventional reserves. The compensation information is from Forbes and Bloomberg Business Week.

Correction (9/6): This story originally said that more than 90 percent of Devon's U.S. reserves are in natural gas. It's actually more than 70 percent.

It would also be prudent to list how many employees/jobs these companies provide. Those middle class families we are all talking so much about make very nice incomes and get good benefits from many of these companies.

In addition to Stephanie’s suggestion that we see how many employees/jobs these companies provide, we should also look at the number of offshoot jobs that will be created:
Health care to treat the illnesses
Emergency Care for accidents
Lawyers and thier staffs
The many other support jobs that will simply be taking the bad created from this and trying to make it good!

What I really want to know is how many people were employed in N Y City shoving horse manure before cars were invented, opps that’s not what this article is about scuse me.

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 1, 2011, 4:45 p.m.

Our main energy source needs to be solar and other natural sources !!

The reason they are so expensive now is because the energy companies make sure their puppets in government keep it that way.

I almost voted for Obama, but I was so glad I didn’t because right after he was elected I saw him promoting clean coal on TV.

There is no such thing !!

Our earth is overpopulated, running out of fish, and short on food and water. Global ice is melting at an alarming rate.

It may be too late but if we are to have a chance we need natural sources of energy, but I believe God will have to make that happen because everyday we see new evidence that proves without a doubt the worlds government leaders are controlled by greedy lunatics with no human conscience.

God please help us all !!

Philip Elenko

Sep. 1, 2011, 4:46 p.m.

As a New York State, New York City resident I am worried about the drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale Formation. Will it pollute our drinking water with various chemicals used in the drilling process and byproducts of this drilling such as uranium and acid rock drainage? Is the quick profit worth long term problems this drilling may produce?

charles gerhards

Sep. 1, 2011, 4:49 p.m.

I tasted the results of years of oil production in Russell Co., KS. Back in 1956 on my trip from Portland, OR on east, the water people got from wells tasted the best anywhere. In about 1987 on a trip through the area, the coffee I got from a local cafe was terrible. I asked why. Water from the aquifer was no longer drinkable, so water was piped throughout the county from a dammed lake on the Saline River. An uncle showed me the salt residue by an oil pump on his farm. So, let’s all just go on and pollute everything with our fracturing and drilling. We need the jobs. Right.

American fuel.  Much cleaner.  Easy to extract.  Very little environmental impact.  Creates jobs.  Reduces dependence on foreign oil and need for foreign wars. 

But people can find a way to hate it because “big oil” is involved.  Unbelievable.

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 1, 2011, 5:36 p.m.

As usual we have people who support the oil, and gas industry posting comments about how wonderful they are !!

We can be sure that some of the comments posted on ProPublica actually come from the energy companies.

Mike I respect your opinion, but the first paragraph of your response sounds like a commercial.

Stephanie and Jays comments sound like they came from an energy company corporate meeting.

Look no further than the Clean Coal adds that we see all over the media, and it’s easy to understand that the energy indusrty is very active in trying to make Americans believe that these dirty destructive sources of energy are best for the U.S. and world.

The corruption and greed are so extreme I believe it must be Biblical in proportions.

God please help us all !!

interesting how the compensation varies   and the big companies get t he same   performance from ceo whether paid   1 million or   25 million

Nicki Langewis

Sep. 1, 2011, 5:45 p.m.

If what you call ‘American’ fuel was being produced by companies with no multi-national interests, and if was only for American consumption, then it would make more sense. The only way I see to do that is to nationalize the oil companies, at least partly. That is the only way to ensure that the huge profits usually skimmed off the top-not to mention the cash moved to off-shore banks to avoid taxes-gets invested in our own infrastructure first.

Thankyou Mike, I do believe we have a climate warming condition, but this country/ as well as most of the world has or will have a very major economic problem.. Until a solution that is cheap comes along the use of natural gas is a better solution than doing nothing..

As for the top sources, I guessed at most before even reading this writers article.
The person who wrote he almost voted for Obama, but glad he didn’t because he was pushing the clean coal technology. that is one natural product this country has a lot of…I just want to remind him that he has also pushed for other sources of green energy . A very hard thing to do in these economic times and a congress house that has only one main goal..
I’m not exactly an Obama fan but at the time the only other source to vote for was and totally disagrees with climate warming. and that it could possible involve the human race…If that is his choice or anyone then lets go pump the oil and turn the screws down on all sources of pollution!

I also find it hard to belive that a stock holder is welling to except non returns on the moneys they spent to purchase said stock in companies, any companies for that matter.

Finally, I really do dislike those ads producted by big oil companies about the millions they have spent in new technology when in fact they are making billions; another subject I think

Hi Barry, I see nothing wrong with someone making a comment on this site even if associted in anyway with employment or other wise with fuel companies or would you rather they quit or get fired in this economy?
Perhaps, God is telling us to use natural gas to power our needs until something better, cheaper and less polluting comes along?
thanks for reading

hi, to anyone who thinks this is a solution… nationalize the oil companys.
Great thought?? how about every company/business also.. or can someone post the companies they would and wouldn’t do this to?
thanks for thinking about it!

Lawrence Marcus

Sep. 1, 2011, 6:45 p.m.

With all the talk of fracking there is one thing that might save our bacon without all the global warming. If congress cuts this we may be in serious trouble. Next year is crucial for the first fusion reactor power test—believe it or not because of advances in solid state engineering using a laser you can finally get more energy out of a fusion reaction (using tiny ammounts of tritium) than you put in. Of course this wont account for the billions spent in developing this technology. There are no waste fuels, worry about reprocessed elements like Uranium, radiation. Sounds too good to be true but the physics is pretty sound.

And this would be used to replace nuclear and coal fired reactors and produce Megawatts along with a mix or solar and wind .........cross your fingers!

2012 is the year this is tested and then the first plant will be built. I dont know why it would take 13 years to build the first plant though with many plants to follow a few years after . This is a collaboration of government, industry and academia.

Saying no to natural gas means saying yes to oil and coal to fuel America’s insatiable appetite for energy. There aren’t enough windmills, solar panels or nuclear plants to handle the need. To get enough oil to power America, we have to buy it from middle eastern or south American countries. What do they do with the money? Kill Americans. Why wouldn’t an American citizen want to keep that money in America? As for coal, there is no such thing as clean coal. It is the same coal that has been mined for 200 years in American and it is the same coal that made cities like Pittsburgh filthy and unhealthy. The footprint for mining coal is far more ugly than the footprint for extracting natural gas. Just because you can’t see some of the mines, doesn’t mean it is not there. Ever heard of mine subsidence? Ever heard of acid water from abandoned mines? The land owners in Pennsylvania and W. Virginia sure have. Come on people - use some common sense. Let them drill for natural gas until a better and economical alternative if found.

P.S. Fracturing a well is not dangerous to fresh water. Not installing the proper steel casing and cement through the fresh water zones is dangerous. You’re looking at the wrong source if you are looking at fracturing.

Ban Fracking in Pennsylvania !!!  Fracking turns our water into poison.  We have more private water wells in Pennsylvania than in any other state in the nation. Our systems and connected and fragile . We are not as Texas and Oklahoma.  We do not have the capacity or means to treat and dispose of the radioactive , highly toxic waster water.  The testimonies of more and more people here are coming out and it seems that the frackers are either not telling the truth or they know they are the cause of the damage but are trying to silence people by buying them off.  BAN   FRACKING IN PENNSYLVANIA !  We like our clean safe drinking water and we want to continue hunting and fishing .

T-REX ears his 26 mill this fall…we shall see what he pays for Encana in Texas, I’ll wager 50cents on the dollar.

Big test coming for Texas Refiners (read Exxon/Chevron) and the people…they are presently at the limit of their fresh water (if not past), at the limit of their Electric Power (Electric Texas), the air is so full of particulate/ozone it doesn’t matter anymore. Now here comes oceans of “Heavy Crude” down the “Big Pipe” to Houston and Port Arthur…test 1 huge amounts of Natural Gas (more than normal) required, test 2 even greater amounts of fresh water (4 to 1 maybe), Test 3 to see if Exxon will gamble on America and build out the new refining infrastructure given this environment!

Larry is correct - but he doesn’t go far enough. The “article” that heads all this commentary isn’t objective, but apparently is someone’s politically correct idea of using demagoguery to distract us from the fact that the governance of our country is in a very sorry state right now. A few points about the article:

      1.) Trying to stir up demagoguery about about large companies and salaries is a specious issue. In order to survive, oil & gas companies have to be huge (how else could a company afford billion-dollar wildcats (chance of zero return) in today’s economy). And people who can successfully manage such large companies do get paid. (alternative would be to pay less & get incompetent managers - but you really wouldn’t like the results you would get)

        2.) Larry’s point about pollution is right on. It is true that (particularly older) production areas have had groundwater problems. But the reason is exactly what Larry said: casing through fresh water zones either wasn’t properly cemented, or (biggest problem area) when the well was plugged, the casing was removed entirely). This pollution problem came up in Texas, and the Texas Railroad commission (they control oil & gas production) has done a very effective job of correcting the problem - by enforcing proper well plugging procedures. End of story.

        3.) Economic point is the real no-brainer. U.S. balance of payments is currently very negative, and lots of that negative cash flow comes from buying oil. Converting the US truck fleet to natgas (with technology that has been available for over forty years) can not only keep more of those pertrodollars in the US - but will additionally create lots of employment. We need the jobs, and we don’t need to send all our money overseas.

Michael Hiner

Sep. 1, 2011, 10:52 p.m.

Everyone should read Ken’s post a couple more times.  He asked good questions with sincerity.  No talking points.  All of you are making important statements.  You all frame the “American Debate” in a most elegant fashion, which is the basis for why our country has flourished these very few centuries.  We beat on our chests, stand on our soapboxes, debate, vote, and challenge.  In short we test our versions and self evident truths. 

In the end there are Ken’s questions that need to be answered with swift sincerity.  Yes, in this place we stumble.  We have been so over-hyped by media sound bytes that much of what we do is fire frantic broadsides of talking points—for fear of losing the electronic (light speed) debate.  So let me stand on my industry soapbox for a few short moments.

1.  Regular testing and monitoring standards make sense in order to establish environmental baselines and identify naturally occurring pollutants in our water supplies.  In doing so we then have the ability to isolate real cases.

2.  Monitoring is a laborious process and never makes prime time TV, or sell media ads.  It does win cases.

3.  Most people are clueless on the mechanics of fracking, and what they think they know is so far from reality that the comments polarize real discussions.

4.  Plenty of case history of wells gone bad.  Bad design, bad casing, bad location.  But let’s be real and seperate old technology from new technology.  And—old mistakes and problems do not necessarily reflect the present.  A report written in 1987 is educational but has little relevance on what is known today, and what is being performed by scientists and engineers today.

5.  There are plenty of greedy and poorly cultured people in the world who do not care about their neighbor.  I would not bother to respond if I did not care. So I assume everyone here cares, regardless of position.

6.  Go slow regulation kills economic performance for resource exploration plays such as the “shales.”  Poor economic performance kills investor stock value, and flattens 401k portfolios of the general public.  Poor performance moves the money overseas.  Not good.

7.  I think there is legitimate concern for drilling operations.  But I also think it is a technological challenge we do have the ability to overcome and maintain with high standards of engineering excellence.  It is what we went to school for.

8. 2.6 million wind turbines will take up a lot of land space, take 30 years to build (if you start tonight), and cost slightly over $8 Trillion dollars.  In the meantime we still need energy, and short sighted bans and moratoriums never hurt the high and mighty green pontificators or robber barons (whoever they are).  They only impact people like you and me, on this blog.  The Murdochs, Buffets and Soros of the world will never be without power for their homes.  But some school teacher, or some truck driver, or construction worker may worry about high fuel prices and the quality of their living standards.

We can answer Ken’s questions.

Michael Hiner

Sep. 1, 2011, 10:55 p.m.

Embarrassed…  ken was funny but I meant for us to look at Philip’s questions My apologies.

Can you imagine having to frack a single well seven (7) times, I want our water back…

25,000 new wells in2010…water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink!

sammy the bull

Sep. 1, 2011, 11:54 p.m.

drilling for gas, not a problem, Fracking: Big Fracking Problem. why? mainly cause what goes down there doesn’t have to be releaved by them. and, much like the fertilizer industry was and probably still is, any kind of toxic crap that they can’t dispose of legally, gets dumped down in the hole. you bet yourass!  senator harry reid killed Yucca Mountain because he was afraid nuclear gunk would get into Vegas’ water supply a hundred miles away, yet they all let big oil FRACK right in peoples back yards.  real fracking nice! we all know what’s up. but just try and do something about it. GD government!

Must be ego-blind guys with money greedy mentalities like Kings of oil-rich Arabian lands and nations which may also have dealings with terrorism, war weapon manufaturing etc. as family side businesses.

No talking points from a corporate meeting here, just a person from the state of Louisiana where the majority of my family and friend’s livelihoods come from working for oil companies. I saw that the author decided to include executive compensation and thought it would be wise to also include the number of employees. Had that compensation information not been provided, I wouldn’t have said anything.

I’m sure that people who built steam engines were sure that the invention and adoption of internal combustion engine was a job killer.  Guess what?  It wasn’t.  Now it is time to change again.  Fossil fuels are dirty and finite.  Remaining reserves are in difficult locations requiring great expense and risk to extract Those working in the fossil fuel energy industry now will find new jobs in sustainable, renewable, cleaner energy technologies.  Of course the oil and gas companies do not want change.  But it ultimately will not be up to them.  The rest of the world is already moving on.  There’s no more money left to continue our resource wars at the behest of the oil and gas multinationals. US can lead or follow, but make no mistake, change is coming.

There’s a bit too much propaganda on both sides to clearly see the issues, I think.

Let me try to lay out whatever thoughts come to my mind in hopes that someone can do something useful with them, rather than just pollute (see what I did there?) the conversation with little more than disagreement.

First, let me point out that the energy companies, top to bottom, are pirates.  Their entire business model is based on getting productive land cheap and then having laws changed to prevent others from entering the industry.  Always has, always will be.  It’s the nature of the business, and we’d be far better off each generating our own power without a central authority able to disconnect us or jack up the prices.

However, my conclusion after reading a few hundred papers (including those presented at the Kyoto and Copenhagen conferences) is that Artificial Global Warming is a fraud, designed to demonize the energy companies and convince the middle class to pay more for less so that the rich can pay less for more.  The numbers don’t say remotely what the alleged environmentalists claim they do, and I encourage each of you to read up on the topic (you don’t need much of a science background).

Notice that even Barry (usually a champion of the people) believes that there’s too many people, plain and simple.  Ted Turner has openly said that he thinks we’d be better off if a few billion people would just die.  That’s what Global Warming is for:  To play on your personal guilt and suck you into the Malthusian fantasy that people exist to destroy each other.

Those are my biases, at least those I know about:  I hate energy companies (and banks, for the same reason—they’re not reliant on anybody but demand we serve them as serfs) but think they’re getting a bad rap for political gain.

Natural gas is cleanER than oil and coal.  Neither is clean, but gas is an improvement.  This is how we’ve done things for thousands of years.  We used wood until it was too troublesome and coal became available.  Coal gave way to oil.  Oil is giving way to natural gas.  We’re getting more energy and less pollution for the mass burned, and that’s a very good thing.

It’s naive to think we can just bump over to “clean” energy, because (a) nothing is clean—even solar and wind put out heat that can damage local wildlife, because all energy conversion produces waste as heat—and (b) it takes (cheap and predictable) energy to research, engineer, and manufacture whatever turns out to be the most effective generator for a particular region.  Part (b) means that we need to burn a LOT of fossil fuels to make clean energy a reality.

Unfortunately, by demonizing the energy companies (rather than taking them to task for their actual behavior) is only going to raise prices and make it ironically more difficult to get out from under their thumbs.  Remember:  The less energy we have produced, the harder it is for some old person or new mother to heat the house in winter.  Expensive or limited power means, flat out, that actual, identifiable people die.  Cheap power means faster innovation.

So, I don’t really have a position, here, and certainly not one that matches anybody else’s position, but hopefully there’s something in all this meandering, steaming compost pile that someone can run with and build a plan of action.  If not, it’s your own dang fault for not just hitting Page Down, I guess…

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 2, 2011, 1:50 p.m.

I’ve had cancer surgery on both eyes so I can’t respond to all, but I would like to respond to the following commenters including an apology to Stephanie, and also explain I believe every citizen is in great danger because there is a pattern of corruption inflicted by the top leaders of banking, insurance, war and weapons, energy, pharmaceutical etc. I truly believe God is our only hope !!

To Stephanie : Last night I thought about how you and Jay’s comments might have been because you or your relatives are hard working employees of the energy industry. You are both very well spoken, and I apologize that I mentioned corporate meeting room regarding you and Jay.

I’m concerned about all the environmental damage and corporate leaders lies about the Gulf oil spill, engaging in dangerous practices to increase profits, damages caused by the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Exxon’s response. Stephanie, I really appreciate the kind way you expressed your response !!

To John : I said “our earth is overpopulated, running out of fish, and short on food and water.”

But I’m not like Ted Turner, I do not want people to die because of the overpopulation. I hope we can find solutions, and we urgently need more clean energy sources. I do appreciate you saying that I am usually a champion of the people, and you are right “It’s naive to think we can just bump over to “clean” energy.”

I wish our leaders would support solar instead of hindering. I want every living being to have a beautiful eternity and that’s one reason i choose to believe in God.

I enjoy reading your thoughtful comments and everyone else’s.

To Bill : I agree that all comments are welcome here. The ProPublica oil fracking articles had comments that appear to unfairly favor the oil industry.This is just me, if someone works for the oil energy industry or a government agency I would like them to say that along with their comment.

Government agencies often protect the industries they are supposed to regulate, and will even allow them to kill many citizens as seen at the websites I listed below .

If you look at Mike’s comments he said “Very little environmental impact”. I believe there’s a huge environmental impact, last Springs oil spill is an example.

Mike has a right to say that; if he works for the industry or government I would like that to be mentioned.

I do greatly appreciate that everyone who responded to me was so kind !!

This is important but some may want to scroll to the next comment. I post here because I believe all average citizens are in great danger because the world government’s leaders are controlled by wealthy special interests that have no conscience.

There is a pattern of corruption inflicted by the top leaders of banking, insurance, war and weapons, energy, pharmaceutical and more. They steal trillions of dollars every year ! It’s all connected world wide !!

I believe in seeking action/resolution. I post comments here because I cannot get any mainstream media coverage of the following organized corporate crimes that endanger every average American :

Multiple insurance companies are committing identical dangerous crimes as seen at

Multiple Non prosecution agreements for money laundering and bid rigging have been given to multiple corporations as seen at

Obama and Bush allowed doctors’ (paid by their campaign contributors) to ignore brain lesions, Multiple Sclerosis, cardiac conditions of many patients, and a foot a new mother broke in five places as seen at

MetLife attacks multiple Psychological patients but they gave Obama hundreds of thousands of dollars and he won’t touch them !!

In Zanny verses MetLife U.S. District Judge Richard Enslen wrote :

“Metlife and its henchmen should appreciate that such conduct may itself precipitate the suicide death of a person who has placed implicit trust in their organization. This record is an open indictment of MetLife’s practices and treatment of the mentally-ill and long-term disability benefits.”

Many more Judges quotes are seen at

Please remember the patients can die during the years it takes their case to get to Court.

MetLife, AIG, Prudential, and Unum rigged bids to increase their sales of workers comp and disability policies. No one was prosecuted. AIG’s bid rigging occurred during the exact same time period that WFAA - TV Wrote :

“a remarkable number of Texans committed suicide because they could no longer endure the pain caused by their injuries and they had been repeatedly turned down for worker’s comp care. Some insurance companies send peer review doctors medical files “stripped” of records important to the possible approval of workers’ comp claims.”

You can also see how multiple insurance companies are committing identical dangerous crimes at

I see the names of the corporate entities who claim the gas reserves; I don’t see the names of the companies who do the actual drilling.

Lot of geological expertise in the list, but I can’t help but wonder if the latter - the actual drillers - have the same amount of knowledge…if they know enough to react appropriately to unusual circumstances.

Like, would they know to get a tad nervous should they start seeing wollastonite, actinolite, and garnet coming back in the mud?  Could either group differentiate between an encapsulated (and so obviously pressurized) aquifer at 10 degrees Celsius and one whose temperature exceeded 300 degrees Celsius (where water starts to get interesting)?  Does “thumping” the road a few hundred yards away result in enough data to differentiate temperatures?

Be neat to see what happens to a fracked methane reservoir that was a lot closer to a magma plume than anticipated.  (Although I bet it is always a tad on the interesting side when the perforating gun is fired.)  ‘Course, once everything settled down you’d have a handy-dandy geothermal power source, maybe.

A very unlikely scenario, all in all…very grade “B” (maybe even “C”) sci-fi flick, even.  But then again, sometimes the Earth does things - altogether new, or previously observed “things” - in places where we really didn’t foresee it; the planet occasionally acts as if it has a mind of its own.

lolll…and me?  Why would I even bring it up?  You see me, I doubt Corporate America’s responsibility level…especially Big Oil’s and any related industry.  Like, I doubt if they’re responsible enough to have a trained geologist on site when they’re driving holes.  Maybe offshore, where they’re risking hundreds of millions-to-billions in drilling rigs, but onshore?  Where the rigs are relatively cheap, and “labor” is plentiful and so…well, you know?

Artificially raised oil price-very possibly, if Obama wishes to continue being the leader of world leaders, goes down, without labor industry-Libyans’ dream of financial freedom will end in a fiasco and so will be for the local public of other oil rich land pieces. Big engines can run by easily available too cheap natural gas (a real life true fact in Bangladesh) and also agricultural numerous oil products for giant diesel motors and Methyl hydrate type fuel products for gasoline engines! All the above fuels function good and emission-less in all types of existing engines. Anyone may Visit Bangladesh and see in own eyes: the way and how millions of motors are running over there with a cheap modification technology. With minimum wages millions of North-Americans can start working this winter in newly reset factories for above modification job and fuel-agriculture fields next summer. Just watch with blessings how easily Obama may succeed creating new non-unionized natural jobs even without any need for profiteering workplace or health insurances.

Please note: North-America has to run a workforce competition with China and the rest of the world where there are things like cheap labor without payment differentiating costly unions and insurances. There are certainly numerous new ways to invent practical working opportunities for millions of willing to work middle class portion of the North-American public. These are future scenarios of the healthy reality in order to stay competitive in the changed new situation of global labor market. (The old good days of receiving free welfare and medicare etc. and having idle times of committing crimes are gradually becoming history.)

lolll…you better believe there are nations, religions, and ideologies all over the world cheering our Republicans and their ability to destroy America.

There is some variation - usually vindictive - of “Pride goeth before a fall.” in almost every country I’ve ever been in, at least.

It could be global warming or the Tar Sands or just Mother Nature but we just lost a complete glacial river @ the British Columbia and Yukon border…Lake Atlin, the biggest natural water lake in BC is down 50ft.

Guard your fresh drinking water, your pure wells, your life source with every political weapon at your disposal!

Barry Schmittou has it right. Too many people.  After we ban coal, gas, and carbon, we have to ban hydrogen and oxygen. That should help us kill off all those pesky people.

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 3, 2011, 3:51 p.m.


I wrote :

“our earth is overpopulated, running out of fish, and short on food and water.”

Then John wrote :

Notice that even Barry (usually a champion of the people) believes that there’s too many people, plain and simple.  Ted Turner has openly said that he thinks we’d be better off if a few billion people would just die. 

I responded to John :

I said “our earth is overpopulated, running out of fish, and short on food and water.” But I’m not like Ted Turner, I do not want people to die because of the overpopulation. I hope we can find solutions, and we urgently need more clean energy sources.

Walter, I think you are probably trying to distract from the issue of having safe energy for our nation. Or maybe you are with the Obama/Bush cartel or the insurance industry, and you are attacking me because of the evidence I’ve posted at and

Whatever your agenda, it is very misleading for you to compare what I said to “kill off all those pesky people”

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 3, 2011, 4:17 p.m.

Since I’m being attacked by deceptions I need to write that last sentence better by saying :

Whatever his agenda, it is very misleading for Walter to imply I was saying “kill off all those pesky people”

Here is my complete comment where I first mentioned overpopulation, which is something I’ve read about in many reports :

Our main energy source needs to be solar and other natural sources !!

The reason they are so expensive now is because the energy companies make sure their puppets in government keep it that way.

I almost voted for Obama, but I was so glad I didn’t because right after he was elected I saw him promoting clean coal on TV.

There is no such thing !!

Our earth is overpopulated, running out of fish, and short on food and water. Global ice is melting at an alarming rate.

It may be too late but if we are to have a chance we need natural sources of energy, but I believe God will have to make that happen because everyday we see new evidence that proves without a doubt the worlds government leaders are controlled by greedy lunatics with no human conscience.

God please help us all !!

(That is the end of my comment that briefly mentioned overpopulation)

I will close by saying again, whatever his agenda, it is very misleading for Walter to imply I was saying “kill off all those pesky people”

You forgot to mention Shell.  Oh yeah, I forgot.  They aren’t even and American company. So, I guess it’s OK for them to destroy the American environment.
Those of you that are so concerned about “economic development”, look at the economy of Pinedale, Wyoming and see how good fracking has been for them.
You also have to consider jobs lost, lives damaged or destroyed, agricultural land permanently out of production and healthcare costs when you look at the cost-benefit analysis.  The oil companies don’t pay these costs, so they don’t care.  We, the people, do.

Wow! Highly meaningful comments made by respectable specialists here have been noted. But I am afraid to limit myself with precise knowledge about a few fields only and rather willing to remain obscure as a Generalist for some reasons in my neutral beliefs beyond my control and complete understanding. But I understand that there is a constant natural balancing act (Unbiased Rule of 50%) being performed cosmically, such as: in recent calamities, a tsunami of sea /ocean has claimed 17,000 from the population of too much sea food consuming Japanese or a drought is bound to cause perishing of numerous hungry people of piracy-type violence causing Somalia or with an evil purpose of a few guys in leadership of course, costly but unnecessarily nuclear weapon producing North Korea, (Yesterday: Pakistan; Tomorrow: India) etc. if supply of humanitarian aids for humans are blocked somehow directly or indirectly by some vindictive groups of humans! If Creator destroy its creation there is none to blame and some kings or religious leaders of the old have so far succeeded to fool the mankind for the fulfillment of their personal ambitions by strict enforcement of political laws but their time has run out!
I have seen with my own eyes: There are vast cultivatable lands on this Earth waiting for vegetation /fruition of all types including clean fuel producing ones for energy (in addition of Wind and solar) and we may rest worry-free about overpopulation. Why do mankind (personally and ignoring 50% control on self even when in impaired state) commit crimes of greed, envy etc. and then suffer very personally for the rest of own life time?
It is a crime for a human to plan or kill another human (such as the blind religious or supremacist groups do) and the personal price including inner-silent tortures of built-in human self-consciousness is payable on this earth and inevitable. That is one of many ‘how the cosmic rules for humans are set at default’ and only the acts of ageless Creator/ God has always been remained untouched by humanly judgmental sense of write and wrong!

whats the profit margin for these companies?

100%? .... 1000%??..

Mike Knapp, what is the “need” for foreign wars? That’s unbelievable, and I say let your sons be the first to go.

Just guess from the following, the profit mergin when $1 or 2 /hr. is paid for driiiing jobs in the desert!

Applying Out of date Cronyism formula in Libya by any insider or outsider will be problematic and unacceptable by the so called educated Libyans that inherit aggressive traits which are parallel in nature and compatible with the forever complaining and unsatisfied portion of Semites such as Palestinians!

Just be extra-careful to be nearby because lots of treacherous sabotaging actions and internal conflicts may arise and have to be encountered with, -which even Gaddfi lost control on!

It would be best, if UN honestly could borrow a big chunk of Gaddafi’s Fund for strengthening its own existence, then, offer hands of long term guidence and help and save this poor nation of suddenly becoming rich by oil money-a highly profiteering business tailored and fattened by money hungry, insatiable, greedy, rich guys of the West and some Sheikhs /kings of the East.

Please note: In 2000 fuel price was 1/4 th of 2010. Demand has increased, so has been the production!

And there, for infinite times ahead, will never ever be any real shortage of fuels for energy on the Earth under the Sun. Let’s convince Obama to be kindly in world’s Top Leading position for a decade only and watch how drastically the Oil price goes down etc. and all the municipalities begin to come under one totally impartial UN power for making the world a beautiful and peaceful place similar to the ‘Paradise that in reality, no-where to be found and felt by our individually limited time human-existence except on this ‘one God created planet’: the Earth” that the mankind has been hearing about in the holy books only that actually are the books of ancient politicians of less-civilized old world for the last thousands of years.

Michael Hiner

Sep. 6, 2011, 11:35 a.m.

Can’t believe this happened, but I wrote a nice long reply on facking and ProPublica’s posting system deleted it because it was too long.  I somehow exceed the 5000 character limit.  After that it (the program) goes into convulsions.

The September issue of Popular Mechanics has a nice article starting on Page 105 about myths and facts of gas shale drilling and fracking.  It is worthwhile to read.  Then we could have a better discussion on the issue.

As for ProPubilca’s article.  I think it would be more instructive to look at the cost per barrel of oil or its btu equivalent for finding and velopment cost for:
onshore oil
shale oil and shale gas
shallow water coastal oil and gas
deepwater oil and gas (greater than 200 meter water depth)
Wind (with equivalent tax credits, not subsidies)
Solar (same)
Candian imported heavy oil
Saudi imported oil
Nigerian imported oil
Mexico imported heavy oil
Venezuela imported heavy oil
Brazil imported oil

The rule of this game/chart, is that you are not allowed to lump the imported oil together into a common pool for cost averaging.

Then we should look at the carbon footprint per barrel of oil equivalent for each type and their individual contribution (include industrial manufacturing cost).  After that we should chart the time to market for each type against the ever exploding US demand for energy.  If as one writer put it—you can’t just say you are going to get rid of people or downsize the population.  So energy development must expand.

Michael Hiner

Sep. 6, 2011, 11:48 a.m.

Btw: Just for clarification, I have been working in the oil and gas industry for over 30 years.

If a person wants to call energy companies pirates, then for comic relief we should re-examine the liberal institutions that pumped out the CEO’s, their staff and boards, and future CEO’s.  We should again for great sport chart top CEO pay, against their corporations taxes that were paid each year. And then—- :)  compare that to the schools they attended.  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should become an institutional mandate for all MBA programs, and a required thesis topic..

all the best,

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 6, 2011, 11:57 a.m.

Hey Michael,

If you write your comment in word then you won’t lose it if it’s too long. When you paste you have to apply paragraphs. 

I like your thought “look at the carbon footprint per barrel of oil equivalent for each type and their individual contribution”

I also really like the sun : ) I appreciate the comments and debates as much as the articles, gives me hope Democracy may have a chance.

Barry Schmittou

Sep. 6, 2011, 12:02 p.m.

Deja Vu Michael : )

We posted simultaneosly ... I love your idea Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should become an institutional mandate for all MBA programs, and a required thesis topic..

I would add required application of CSR by businesses and government. That does not happen often now from what I have experienced.

@Michael Hiner - your revelation that you work for the oil/gas industry was unnecessary.

But I would suggest that you reconsider the idea that the institutions that churn out America’s CEOs are still “liberal”...particularly the MBA programs of those institutions.

Much as with Congress, the integrity of many of America’s higher education institutions was compromised with the application of great amounts of money; the difference being, of course, that in the case of the former the bribes are called “political donations” while in higher education they are called “endowments”.

Back after WWII - when America’s educational institutions were flooded with GI Bill recipients who knew the difference between status attributable to wealth and earned status - our education system did become “liberal”, if by “liberal” you mean that all humans were granted “value” until they had proved themselves unworthy.

But now, 70 years later…the false value system of wealth has reasserted itself.

In a result set - rather than a picture - that says 1,000 words, googling “making business connections in college” will return 124 million results.

Michael Hiner

Sep. 6, 2011, 2:03 p.m.

The Institute for Policy Studies just published their 18th annual report for 2011.  Co-authors:
Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, et al.
They analyze corporate compensation.  The last chart is shows top CEO’s, their compensation, and the schools they came from.  It was instructive.  A lot of Ivy and mini-ivy schools.

Back to Fracking.
The problem is less likely the frack job.  I think we need to understand the quality of the well as it is drilled and cased through the shallow section.

We do have a lot of concerns for what happens to the fluids when they are circulated back up the hole for re-cycling or disposal.  Surface spills are careless mistakes.  We all know that it doesn’t take much larceny for a less than honorable person or trucking operator to go dump something along a back road because or for some unknow motivation. Re-cycling is smart.  Waste water treatment is a critical path factor.

Until we have engineering analysis results of frack jobs, along with monitoring, both real time, and long term, we will be uncertain on the problem.  It’s just that most physical assumptions would indicate the frack does not have the power to migrate up into the shallow acquifer.

Barry, to clarify my comment, I simply meant that you’re wrong on the point, and to look who you’re agreeing with.

The planet can comfortably support a very large population (thirty billion, as I understand it), and our problems come from corruption, not a lack of resources.

If it weren’t for Monsanto lying about their yields and locking farms into their no-seed contracts, there’d be more food produced, for example.  If it weren’t for dictators and generals stealing food for themselves, we’d be able to deliver it anywhere in the world.  Seriously, if Coca-Cola can get cans to every village in Africa, it’s possible to get real food through.

The power situation is different, but not by much.  I’m not really sure if solar or wind are the “final” answers.  They take up space and block sunlight from other places where it’s needed.  But we’ll find something, provided the innovators have access to cheap enough power to run experiments and get the factories running.

Could be solar, could be fusion (which is an eternal “within fifty years”), or it could be something nobody has ever envisioned.  Could be literal magic, for all I know.  But we can’t get there if we turn out the lights.

The problem, as Michael rightly points outoil, gas, and other carbon-based fuels are only dangerous when we don’t force companies to adhere to obvious safety standards.  Mind you, where we disagree is everywhere else, since I think they’re terrible companies run by outright sociopaths for actively avoiding those standards.

Those “standards” should not only include pumping carefully and proper waste disposal, but health monitoring in the area and supporting anybody who’s hurt.  That should be a fair “cost of doing business” to companies that claim to make only a fraction of a percent of profit but still rake in record profits whenever speculation drives fuel prices up…

cathy mcmullen

Sep. 13, 2011, 4:38 p.m.

I am so sick and tired of watching these energy production companies wrap themselves in the American Flag and tell us everything they are doing is so America can be energy independent. If that is truly their motive why has the largest natural gas production company, Chesapeke, sold one third of it’s drillilng interest in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas to China?
The Eagle Ford Shale is the largest producing natural gas shale in Texas. It has also shown large amounts of oil production but the American companies drilling there have sold substantial amount of the drilling rights to France, India, Canada, and China. Why?
The natural gas production industry is lying when they say they are drilling to save America from future energy dependence. It is all about the money and it always has been.
No water! No problem! China can probably sell us some.

@cathy mcmullen:  It is worse than that.

Consider the following quote from a 24/7 Wall St. article published on January 31, 2011 that is available at:

which informs us that Chesapeake is also giving China a big chunk of the Niobrara gas field:

“Ever since 2005, when its offer to buy Unocal was withdrawn following cries of political rage, Cnooc Ltd. (NYSE: CEO) and other Chinese oil companies kept a low profile on acquisitions, particularly in North America. Then in October 2010, Cnooc paid $1.1 billion for a third interest in leases owned by Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) in the Eagle Ford play in south Texas.

That deal sailed through regulatory approvals and Cnooc must have figured that this approach was much better than an outright takeover because the company has once again completed a deal with Chesapeake that will give Cnooc a one-third interest in a shale gas play called the Niobrara, located where the states of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas meet. The Chinese have discovered that not being greedy pays off.”

End of 24/7 Wall St. quote.

Cnooc is the “China National Offshore Oil Corporation”.  It is “state-owned” which means that it is directly (rather than “effectively”, as all other Chinese businesses are) under the control of the PRC’s Central Committee and subject to the influence of the PLA as well. 

The hydrocarbons industry has been inimical - judging by their actions - to America ever since they purchased sufficient numbers of Congressional (and, shortly, Presidential) Republicans to block conservation and alternative energy measures in the 1970s and complete the sellout of the American people and the United States of America to the OPEC nations of the Middle East.

Given how well the hydrocarbon industry’s betrayal of America to the Islamic nations of OPEC has worked out for the U.S. of A., I can hardly wait to see what the repercussions of selling America out to the PRC - a communist nation that is growing a military that seems to be unaware that China’s goals aren’t first regional and then global dominance as China’s talking heads promise - will be.

I don’t advocate that people get involved in solar research solely for environmental reasons; I am involved because it is in the strategic interests of the people of the United States of America to eliminate our dependence on hydrocarbons altogether.  We simply cannot trust the hydrocarbons industry to not sell us out; nor can we assume that everybody (or anybody!) we send to Washington will remain immune to the lure of Big Energy’s money and the peer pressure of those who have already assented to their own corruption.

Note to my previous comment:  “Technically”, Cnooc, Ltd, is a “subsidiary” of the parent state-owned company CNOOC Group.  That gives Cnooc, LTD the advantage of being listed on the Hong Kong and New York stock exchanges where they can - like every other situation - use American and other foreign money to finance their operations wherever they may choose to leave a footprint. 

That listing as a “public” company (that is a subsidiary of a state-owned company!) gives them much more freedom to choose where they will leave their footprints, much like granting Rupert Murdoch dual citizenship with a wink and a nod now permits NewsCorp to tramp all over the truth in America.

“Coincidentally”, the Koch brothers - who now finance and use the Tea Party as a weapon in the right’s broad assault upon democracy in America - got their initial funding when their father built Joe Stalin his oil industry in the Soviet Union.


This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Fracking: Gas Drilling’s Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

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