GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 141-3
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


GERALI, Francesco, School of Library and Information Studies, The University of Oklahoma, 401 W. Brooks St., Bizzell Library SLIS Rm 120, Norman, OK 73019,

The modern oil society moved the early steps on late 1850s, when the level of knowledge and technological education of humankind on petroleum allowed the inception of the mass production of oil, first in the United States and soon after in Europe. Since the beginning of the business, it was felt necessary to maximize the performance of the oil fields. Relying only on the limited geological evidence available, technologists soon conceived methods to enhance the productivity of the wells through intrusive and/or invasive downhole technologies. Oil scientists improved that trend during the 20th century by experimenting and achieving new kind of methods to approach, stimulate and enhance the yield of the reservoirs. The development of complex and innovative technologies to produce conventional oil from ordinary wells may be acknowledged the overture of the today breakthrough occurring in the unconventional oil & gas production.

This research aims to frame and analyze both the overture and the following merging of knowledge and artifacts that found momentum when it was successfully adapted to exploit shale rocks: the so called unconventional deposits of oil & gas. The literature review of not-technical/industry publications from the past thirty years highlights how the unconventional is mostly discussed from political and/or environmental perspectives. There is a substantial lack of historical analysis on the complex and heterogeneous set of technologies that revolutionized the geography of the oil fields, and finally opened the door to new and not easy to predict energy scenarios. The goal is to outline an historical review to explain the emergence of the idea of unconventional resources, to describe the context in which it developed, and to recognize the factors that leaded the oil explorers to develop a new unconventional mindset.