US oil, shale gas pioneer George Mitchell dies at 94

GPM's StoryUS oil giant George Mitchell died Friday morning at his home in Galveston, Texas, a family spokesperson said. He was 94.

Mitchell was a pioneer in the technology of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which he used to tap oil and gas in the Barnett Shale play of North Texas in the 1980s and 1990s. The process became the foundation for the modern shale boom.

Mitchell Energy & Development, the company he built and eventually sold for $3.1 billion, was responsible for more than 200 oil and 350 natural gas discoveries.

In his career, Mitchell participated in drilling some 8,000 wells, including more than 1,000 wildcats.

The full statement from his family can be read below.

GALVESTON, Texas -- We are deeply saddened to announce that George Phydias Mitchell passed away today. He died of natural causes in Galveston surrounded by his family.

His story was quintessentially American.

George P. Mitchell was raised as a child of meager means who, throughout his life, believed in giving back to the community that made his success possible and lending a hand to the less fortunate struggling to reach their potential. 

He married Cynthia Woods Mitchell, and, together, they raised 10 children and collaborated on myriad projects—all dedicated to making the world a more hospitable and sustainable place. Cynthia passed away in 2009.

He will be fondly remembered for flying in the face of convention—focusing on ‘what could be,’ with boundless determination—many times fighting through waves of skepticism and opposition to achieve his vision.

Whether it was graduating first in his class at Texas A&M University, developing the first master-planned community, pioneering the technology that unleashed the shale gas boom, working to create a more sustainable planet, restoring the historic area of Galveston, or just fishing with his family, he had the right mix of vision, optimism, and tenacity, and a love for his fellow man.

We are and will forever be grateful for the gift of this remarkable life. There’s no doubt that he helped make this world a better place.

For more information, please visit the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation website at

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