Fracking pioneer George Mitchell dies at 94

July 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM
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GALVESTON, Texas, July 27 (UPI) -- George Mitchell, a pioneer in hydraulic fracturing, has died in Galveston, Texas, his family confirmed. He was 94.

Mitchell, whose cause of death Friday was not reported, began working in the oil industry after he graduated from Texas A&M University and went on to start his own independent oil and gas company, Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., The New York Times reported.

Throughout his career, Mitchell employed new technologies for extracting oil from the ground, but it was not the 1980s and 1990s that he began fracking, which uses water and chemical injections to force natural gas from reservoirs, in Texas.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Mitchell finally produced several gushing wells in 1998.

Mitchell's hydraulic fracturing technique was credited with creating an unexpected natural gas boom in the United States after his success in Texas.

Mitchell sold his company to the Devon Energy Corporation for $3.5 billion in 2001. The sale included 10,000 wells, many of which still yielded natural gas at the time.

Mitchell is survived by his sister, three daughters, seven sons, 23 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. His wife, Cynthia, died in 2009.

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