Join The Discussion

 

Moves by Jeb Bush add to talk of 2016 candidacy

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush's decision to release a policy-laden e-book and all his emails from his time as governor of Florida has further stoked expectations among his allies that he will launch a presidential bid.

read more >

Ebby Halliday acquires Fort Worth’s Williams Trew

Williams Trew Real Estate of Fort Worth has been acquired by Dallas-based residential real estate brokerage Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc.

read more >

Meridian Bank Texas parent acquired by UMB Financial for $182.5M

Kansas City, Mo.-based UMB Financial Corp., the parent company of UMB Bank, said Dec. 15 it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Marquette Financial Companies in an all-stock transaction.

read more >

Cousins Properties to sell 777 Main tower in downtown Fort Worth

Cousins Properties Inc. has confirmed plans to sell the 777 Main office tower in downtown Fort Worth, according to a news release from the Atlanta-based real estate investment firm.

read more >

Glen Garden sale closes, distillery on tap

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. closed late Wednesday on its purchase of the historic Glen Garden Country Club in southeast Fort Worth, with plans to convert it into a whiskey distillery and bucolic visitor attraction.

read more >

Industry giant GE aims to improve fracking

 

KEVIN BEGOS,Associated Press


PITTSBURGH (AP) — One of America's corporate giants is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling, or fracking. General Electric Co. is opening a new laboratory in Oklahoma, buying up related companies, and placing a big bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients and reduce the environmental and health effects of the boom.

"We like the oil and gas base because we see the need for resources for a long time to come," said Mark Little, a senior vice president. He said GE did "almost nothing" in oil and gas just over a decade ago but has invested more than $15 billion in the past few years.

GE doesn't drill wells or produce oil or gas, but Little said the complexity of the fracking boom plays into the company strengths. Wells are being drilled horizontally at great depths in a variety of formations all around the country, and that means each location may require different techniques.

There are also big differences in how surrounding communities view the boom. There's been little controversy in traditional oil and gas states such as Oklahoma, but nearby landowners in Pennsylvania, Colorado and other states have complained of environmental and health effects.

"My own view is there things can be managed," Little said of concerns about drilling, adding they need to be managed carefully. He drew a parallel to GE's work with the aircraft industry, since many decades ago flying was considered a risky business, but the industry evolved so that even as the speed, distance and number of flights increased, overall safety improved greatly.

Little also pointed out that GE has significant experience in wind energy, solar, and in nuclear power. "I think the world needs all of these kinds of systems," Little said.

One environmentalist welcomed the news.

"It's exciting to see. I think it is a positive response to legitimate public concerns about the environmental impacts" of the fracking boom, said Michael Shellenberger, one of the founders of Oakland's Breakthrough Institute. He added that other companies are working to reduce and clean up wastewater, use more benign fracking methods, and reduce air pollution related to drilling.

"It's the kind of continuous improvement of technologies that's needed," Shellenberger said.

Little said the GE strategy ultimately comes down to looking at "minds and machines together." For example, they have devices that can literally be put down into a well to give people on the surface information about exactly what's happening a mile or two below ground.

"We'll get more information than ever before," he said, and that can be used to help improve production and profits, and to monitor and reduce environmental impacts.

One scientist said that the approach makes sense, and that there are past examples of success.

Modern cars are "incomparably cleaner" than older ones, said Neil Donahue, a professor of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "There are some real technical issues that these folks at GE might be able to make real progress on."

But Donahue added that GE's research is separate from — and can't address — the issue of how society should regulate fracking. He said it's likely that over time, GE will be able to look back and "say we've made it safer."

"It's up to a different level of discussion, how do we deal with this as a society," he said of the benefits and risks that come with fracking. "It's less obvious that GE research will reduce" the many other contentious issues around fracking, such as whether it should be allowed at all in some communities.

< back

Email   email
hide
TCU/Baylor
Did the College Football Playoff Committee get it right?