HOUSTON, July 26 George P. Mitchell, a
billionaire philanthropist credited with making the extraction
of natural gas from shale rock commercially viable using the
innovation of hydraulic fracturing, died at the age of 94 on
His family said the death was from natural causes.
A native of Galveston, Texas who came from meager means, the
petroleum engineer was the chairman and chief executive officer
of Mitchell Energy & Development Corp, which was sold to Devon
Energy Corp for $3.5 billion in 2002.
Mitchell drilled for natural gas in a rock formation known
as the Barnett Shale in north Texas where the first successful
application of hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as
fracking, resulted in the viable production of natural gas.
Fracking, in which sand, water and other fluids are blasted
into rock formations at high pressure to unlock trapped oil and
gas, has vastly changed the nation's energy supply outlook. The
rapid growth in crude production from shale has led to some to
predict North America could be energy independent by the end of
Mitchell, a veteran of World War II, was also a real estate
developer. In 1974 he created the Woodlands, a 25,000-acre
forested community filled with parks and a 1.4 mile long manmade
canal, located about 30 miles north of Houston
The Woodlands now has a population of more than 100,000 and
is home to corporations including Anadarko Petroleum Corp
. The world's largest publicly traded oil company, Exxon
Mobil Corp, is building a 385-acre campus in the area to
accommodate 10,000 employees.
Mitchell, whose wealth was estimated at $2 billion by
Forbes, supported a number of causes ranging from the arts to
educational initiatives and worked to promote the sustainability
of natural gas through his Texas-based foundation.
He raised 10 children with his wife Cynthia Woods Mitchell
who died in 2009. In 2011, Mitchell signed the Giving Pledge
sponsored by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, making
public his intent that the majority of wealth should be donated
to charitable causes.