Boom times are back in Okla. oil production
President after president has called for energy independence for America, but somehow it never seems to happen. CBS News correspondent Anna Werner talked to an oil man who predicts it's coming and in just a few years.
The boom times are back in Seminole, Oklahoma. Oil producers are drilling 20 new wells a day here.
Melvin Moran is a second generation oil man. His production has soared 50 percent in the last five years.
"Since this new technology has come along," he said, "there have probably been 100 wells drilled within 2 or 3 miles from where we are standing."
The new technology lets oil producers drill not just vertically but horizontally into layers of black shale -- rock that is rich with oil. Once there, they use the method called 'fracking' -- pumping in water under intense pressure along with sand and chemicals -- to crack open the rock and release the oil.
Fracking is controversial and some question its impact on the environment. Moran believes if done responsibly, it's safe.
"This new technology with these large fracks has increased both oil and gas production enormously," he said.
Five years ago, drilling a well here would have been a waste of time because it would have produced virtually no oil. Now, with the benefit of new technologies, this one well is expected to produce as much as 100,000 barrels of oil over the next 20 years.
Eric Potter does energy research at the University of Texas. He said getting oil from shale is expensive. Right now the price of oil is up 40 percent since 2007, roughly $107 per barrel. This technology is only profitable if the price stays high.
"Is there any chance this winds up being the crude version of the Gold Rush and at some point the bottom drops out?" Werner asked Potter.
"Well, all rushes -- whether they're Gold Rushes or oil rushes or booms -- have a beginning and ultimately they have an end. So the question is what will the end be like?" he responded.
But Moran, who used to head a major petroleum association here, is confident. He even predicts this boom could eliminate the United States' need for foreign oil in just 10 years.
Werner pointed out to Moran that 10 years isn't that far away.
"No, 10 years isn't," he said. "Just five years ago, we were importing 60 percent of our oil. Today we are importing only 42 percent.
"So you didn't expect to see that?" asked Werner.
"I did not expect to see that ever."
Melvin Moran says he'll start on another well next month that could produce another $25 million worth of oil.
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