General Electric announced plans to invest billions of dollars in fracking, a new type of oil and gas drilling.
GE will open up a new laboratory in Oklahoma and buy up related companies in a pricey bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients while reducing the environmental and health effects of the boom.
Mark Little, a senior vice president, explained that GE did “almost nothing” in oil and gas just over 10 years ago. However, the company has invested more than $15 billion in the industry in the last few years. Little added of, “We like the oil and gas base because we see the need for resources for a long time to come.”
GE won’t drill any wells or produce oil or gas, but the complexity of the fracking industry will play into the corporate giant’s strengths. Each fracking location could require different techniques, because wells are being drilled horizontally at great depths in many different formations.
Little also pointed out that GE has previously worked with wind and solar energy and in nuclear power, stating, “The world needs all of these kinds of systems.” While there has been little controversy surrounding fracking in oil and gas states like Oklahoma, nearby landowners in states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, and others have complained of the environmental and health effects of fracking.
One environmentalist is excited about GE’s involvement in fracking. Michael Shellenberger, one of the founders of Oakland’s Breakthrough Institute, applauds other companies as well, who are working to reduce and clean up waste water, making more benign fracking methods, and reduce air pollution caused by drilling. Shellenberger added:
“It’s exciting to see. I think it is a positive response to legitimate public concerns about the environmental impacts [of fracking]. It’s the kind of continuous improvement of technologies that’s needed.”
In the end, GE hopes its involvement in fracking will make the process of drilling oil and gas safer.
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