May 20, 2007


The American oil patch, once left to languish during an extended period of low oil prices, is on the rebound. Wildcatters like Mr. Bryant are ready to pounce. With oil prices now hovering around $60 a barrel — three times higher than they were throughout the 1990s — the industry is expanding at a pace last seen decades ago.

“The oil industry has changed dramatically in the last 20 years,” Mr. Bryant says. “Barriers to entry have dropped significantly. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the business 100 years or 100 days.”

Easily available capital and technology, once the preserve of traditional oil companies, are reordering the business. Investors are lining up to finance energy projects while leaps in computing power, imaging technology and collaborative online networks now allow the smallest entities to compete on an equal footing with the biggest players.

What an interesting phenomenon. Someone should write a book about it! But seriously, read the whole thing. I’ll just note that with corrupt and incompetent governments likely to seriously damage the oil production of Venezuela, Iran, and Nigeria, it’s probably a good time to be in the domestic-oil business.

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