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In the past 10 years, there have been several converging forces at play that have changed the landscape of oil and gas exploration in North America. First, geology and imaging sciences have significantly accelerated the ability to locate oil and gas formations under the surface. Likewise, recent mechanical and technological advances have allowed drill operators to extend the reach of a well hole to thousands of feet, both horizontally and vertically. Finally, chemical engineers have been able to find ways to extract oil and gas from rock and shale formations previously considered to be unusable—via “fracking.”
The fracking boom is prompting a vast expansion as natural gas pipelines are extending into the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. And the United States is not the only country focused on increasing its reliance on natural gas and reducing its use of coal; Canada is as well. These trends mean there is a big scramble underway in the exploration segment of the energy sector to secure new locations for drilling rigs and operations. And, this increased energy demand has pushed exploration and production activities deeper into both the land and the ocean, expanding the need for drilling services.
There are over 2,000 active rig sites in the United States and Canada today. One common misconception is that these rigs are offshore over water. In fact, 90 percent are on land. Furthermore, the ability to store and convert natural gas into viable, cost-effective energy has changed the landscape of drilling as well. Twenty years ago, natural gas was considered a by-product of crude oil exploration. Today, over 30 percent of rigs in North America are searching for natural gas. Once a rig is “capped” and turned into a production site, it must be transported.
Ultimately, as these examples illustrate, it’s a win-win partnership: Hughes broadband solutions tailored to solve the myriad of industry problems in delivering the world sufficient and cost-effective energy to power economic and social development.