Chris Wright is the CEO and chairman of Liberty Oilfield Services, a Denver-based company that provides hydraulic fracturing services to drillers. In this episode, Wright talks with Robert about his pioneering work on micro-seismic technology during the earliest days of the shale revolution, Liberty’s recent acquisition of some of Schlumberger’s assets and how that acquisition will make Liberty into one of the biggest oilfield service companies in the country, and why, in his words, “human liberty and abundant energy…changed the world, created the modern world, enabled the modern world.”
Robert Bryce 0:05
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I’m the host Robert Bryce. On this podcast we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And today, my guest is Chris Wright, the chairman and CEO of liberty oilfield services. Chris, thanks for being with us today.
Chris Wright 0:22
thrilled to be here with you, Robert. Great. So
Robert Bryce 0:25
I want to talk about several things. You were, you’ve been in the hydraulic fracturing business for more than 20 years now, close to 30 years. So I want to talk about that. I want to talk about Liberty, and we just did a major deal with Schlumberger. But before we do that, I don’t like long introductions. I don’t like to introduce other people I like them to do themselves. So if you don’t mind, I’m putting you on the spot here. Imagine you just arrived at a dinner party, you don’t know anyone there. And that you going around the table and it comes to you. Hi, why are you here? What’s your name?
Chris Wright 1:02
Chris, right. And my short bio is I started out as a science geek, I transitioned to a tech nerd. And then I’ve been an energy entrepreneur my whole life. To me, I realized at a young age, that energy enables everything else, climbing mountains, traveling the world lifting people out of poverty, all the things I cared about. So I’ve spent my life trying to figure out how we can assure a better energy future for the world wrong about a lot of things. But that’s been my Odyssey.
Robert Bryce 1:29
Wrong, but never in doubt. Maybe, and well, that’s a good introduction. I like that. So now tell me you’re you’re the chairman and CEO of liberty, you just did a major transaction with Schlumberger and took on some of their assets. Tell me about liberty and your company? Because I imagine a lot of people that listen to this podcast won’t know about liberty.
Chris Wright 1:51
Yeah, so Liberty first the name is I’ve been a passion, passionate, bottom up organization guy, free people free organization bottom up, not top down. So hence the name liberty. And Liberty oilfield services is a frack company. We work from the Canadian border to the Mexican border all in the US. We’ve been a tech company from the start so fine, founded by what we say highly competitive tech nerds. And we’ve just looked at how do we make frack better, more efficient, more oil and gas, smaller impacts on the broader environment and local communities and in a different culture in the company, so low turnover and the models the models worked very well. We started at nine and a half years ago and and it’s it’s growing pretty rapidly. And yeah, as you said, Robert, we just did a transaction. slumbered, we took over slumber, J’s frac business, so the largest oilfield service company in the world. And frack was also one of their biggest business lines. But they want to focus more on things they have a great competitive advantage at. And I think they recognize Liberty was the best player in frack. And we’re very technology embracing as they are. So we’re going to combine their people, their technology and their equipment with our people, our technology equipment and make it into into a better stronger liberty, big challenge ahead, no big challenge for us.
Robert Bryce 3:09
So I want to come back to the Schlumberger deal in a little bit, but let’s start from the basics. Because there there’s been a lot of controversy, a lot of talk around hydraulic fracturing, and a lot of people claiming it’s dangerous and causes all kinds of groundwater problems. What is what is a frack spread? How does this How does this process work? Just a quick preliminary, you come in that another company comes in with a drill rig and drills the wellbore and then you come in, right and what do you do?
Chris Wright 3:38
Exactly, so you drill two miles down, make a right or left turn drill two miles along and shale and shales is very impermeable rock, it seems like it should be a kitchen countertop or the slate in your patio, not a rock, you could easily move something through. So we pump water with some chemicals at very high pressure out holes that are shot in that pipe to create a lot of plumbing that connect is very impermeable rock back to the wellbore. I always say if you could miniaturize yourself, Robert and go into a frack. If you looked at a square feet, a square foot of the rock that’s access by this crack. Now, about a tablespoon of oil will come out every few days. So you wouldn’t even see the oil moving out of the rock. It comes out so slowly. So the idea of frack is to put a whole bunch of underground plumbing created by pumping water that cracks this rock, and then a little bit of sand goes in there to just hold this little gap open. That allows the oil to seep out of that shale and flow into the wellbore. So the equipment we show up on location to about 40 50,000 horsepower. That’s basically the power of a 747 jet engine, so it’s spread over a number of trucks, some mixing equipment to add the chemicals and sand together 15 to 18 human beings on location, the control Looks like Mission Control in Houston, there’s large truck with a whole bunch of computers and cameras and technology that control these pumps, this mixing equipment to safely pump at very high pressure fluid underground at a high rate.
Robert Bryce 5:15
And so 40 to 50,000 horsepower. So why do you need that was? I’ve been on a frack spread. I’ve seen it myself, Why so much muscle? why did why do you need that much power to drive this process.
Chris Wright 5:29
And the reason is, the biggest use of that power is that as you go down, you go two miles underground, if you go two miles under the sea, the pressure is about 4000 psi, because the weight of water, you go to miles under rock rocks about two and a half times heavier than water, all the cracks open at a different angle. But maybe it’s 8000 psi. So you’ve got to get all the way up to 8000 psi before you can even move the rock apart. So you’ve got to get that high pressure that’ll separate the rock. And then you’ve got to transport this fluid down at the start four miles of pipe two miles vertical, two miles horizontal, and you want to pump at a pretty good rate, you know, will typically pump, you know, at 234 thousand gallons a minute at very high pressure. So that’s that takes that takes a lot of
Robert Bryce 6:18
power in that high pressure, what pressure? What are the pressure gradients in them in the front zone where you’re actually injecting the water in the sand? What are the what are the pounds per square inch in those locations?
Chris Wright 6:32
Yeah, so the downhole pressure in the frack itself, you know, could be anywhere from 7000 psi to 15 18,000 pounds per square minutes. So just that pressure right there, it’s like being miles underneath the ocean. So just to move something takes a lot of force, but then to move it fast and a lot of stuff means power. We bracket fleets are power hungry, right, you need to put a lot of energy to move the rocks and get the stuff out there.
Robert Bryce 6:58
And you’re constantly from everything I understand, correct me if I’m wrong, you’re constantly changing the mix, right to then mounds of amount of pounds of pounds of sand per gallon, you’re constantly there’s not one recipe, right? You’re constantly changing the recipe depending on the formation, the depth, the pressure, all those things that that there’s not
Chris Wright 7:17
exactly as I say there’s a mission control there with engineers in a band that are controlling the equipment that are watching what’s going on, we have a satellite dish on top of all of the mission controls for each frack fleet that’s sending that data to our customers office, back to our Denver office. Yeah, what misunderstanding of the oil and gas industry is people think we’re old and dirty and low tech. It’s actually an incredible user of technology. My whole background is in technology. And the other thing, Robert, I’ll make if I could make that pointer, the idea of hydraulic fracturing, we’re actually stealing it from Mother Nature, all the oil and gas production that we get elsewise, it all comes from hydraulic fracturing. When, when small single cellular organisms lived in the ocean 100 years ago, 500 million years ago, they die, they fall to the bottom of the ocean, and they get buried. And it’s only if they get buried in impermeable rocks, that they actually don’t break down. Normally, by mixing with oxygen, they get sealed and encased and ultimately cooked into oil and gas, you know, over 100 million years as those rocks get deeper. So that’s where oil is created. But before the shale revolution, we didn’t produce oil and gas out of the rocks. It was created in we waited. And Mother Nature with just pressure creates a whole bunch of hydro millions, trillions of hydraulic fractures in the shale itself. And that’s how the oil and gas seeps out of the shale, and then floats upward and gets trapped in some other rock. So oil and gas production was about looking for places Hey, maybe oil, the rocks bend here we can see what this seismic technology, maybe the oil and gas got trapped there and you drill down and Oh, we got oil where the Beverly Hillbillies are no, we were wrong. It’s water. So with the shale revolution is instead of waiting for mother nature and searching, we just go into the rocks where oil is actually created. And we just speed up Mother Nature’s process by delivering that pressure via water from the surface. And we create a whole bunch of fractures just like mother nature does. And we just speed up the process of the oil seeping out of the shale, we put it into our wellbore and we bring it to surface.
Robert Bryce 9:20
That’s a great explanation and maybe the best I’ve ever heard because you know that idea of well, we always had to find reservoir, the oil and gas industry had to find reservoirs, the sea change the fundamental difference now with the shale revolution is you’re not waiting on that process that oil to be trapped. You’re going directly to the source rock which makes it Is that a fair assessment?
Chris Wright 9:43
It is there’s no more dry holes in the US shale industry there are zero dry holes. You might drill a well and spend more money to produce the well and frack the well then you get out of oil and gas so it’s an economic loss. But every every well drilled in the shale revolution produces oil and Guess because we’re going to a place we already know the oil and gas. His question is just can we engineer it in a way that we can get out more dollars that we put in. So we have an economic process so the business can grow. And we try to engineer it to have the smallest possible impact on the nearby communities. And the environment is large.
Robert Bryce 10:19
So let me let me talk about that then, because I want to back up. Well, actually, let me ask this question before because I want to you are one of the become one of the most Public Advocates in the oil and gas sector, one of the most vocal, you give speeches all the time about the importance of hydrocarbons. I watched a speech he gave last year about the link between health and hydrocarbons. And you point out that if I’m memories right here, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson together had 10 children, but only two of them lived to be adulthood and actually died of old age. And you use that as a way you said, I think you said they didn’t have uniquely bad luck. The reason that they live is that they lived in the age before hydrocarbons. It never thought of height of presidential history in those terms, but that that that mortality of children was much higher, people didn’t live as long and you’re attributing this sea change in many of your presentations to the availability of oil and gas and coal.
Chris Wright 11:19
Yeah, I think it’s hard to overstate the transformation, the arrival of fossil fuels did for the human condition. So yeah, as we were just talking there, you could just focus on the human health aspect, life expectancy for humans, a little somewhere around 30 years throughout all of human history, maybe it was 35 years in the middle of the 1800s, then the arrival of fossil fuel, global life expectancy today is over 70 years, a doubling of human life expectancy, I’m more than 90% of the world lived on less than $2 a day throughout all of human history, till the middle of the 1800s, we’ve had this trench transformation. Today, it’s about 9% of the world. So 80, I got to do that math 89% of humanity lifted out of poverty, you know, from oil and gas. That’s the ultimate cost. That’s the prime mover. Now the specific things was it enabled modern medicine and enabled public health and labeled planes, trains, and automobiles, and all these things that were the immediate causes of it. But the enabler, why the world changed was just the access to abundant energy that you may have never had before. We were 100% renewable before, almost all of our energy was from burning wood, agricultural way sticks and dung, solid biomass. That’s what powered humanity until modern times, I remember I can say one other thing, still a third of humanity get their primary energy, that cooking fuel and heating their homes the same way our ancestors did, by burning wood dung or agricultural waste inside huts. So a third of humanity has not gone through this energy transition that doubled our life expectancy. And and by World horrific Health Organization data, about 3 million people a year die from that single cause of indoor air pollution, from burning wood dung grass, inside of hearts. I’ve been to many of these huts myself through my travels. And I tell you, there’s one thing they crave they want lower cost energy cleaner air, and they want to have the lives that we have. So to me that my passion is to finish this energy transition to lift everyone else up. You know,
Robert Bryce 13:28
it’s interesting, you bring up the indoor air pollution issue, because I didn’t realize this until I was going to doing an interview the other day, Kirk Smith, who was the Cal Berkeley scientists who did that initial work on indoor air pollution, and mortality numbers, died in June, unexpectedly, but yeah, he was the great he was the pioneer in going to rural villages in in developing countries, and actually doing the field work. And then his work was adopted by the World Health Organization that then extrapolated out those other numbers. So I completely I completely agree with you. So one other question about the same thing you I watched a presentation you gave about five years ago before the House of Lords. And you talked about the same thing about the availability of energy. And you talked, in fact, about the doubling of horsepower, which I’d never really thought about the move from using oxen to pole plows to using horses. I don’t know how deeply you’ve researched that, but I thought that was a really interesting point. And we think about draught horses all the time now but they didn’t know exist exist. What? How did you come on that fact? And we can you tell me a little more about it.
Chris Wright 14:37
Just research. You know, I’m a history buff, you know. So I always want to understand, you know, the world used to be a certain way. And now it’s very different. When I was a kid, I wanted to understand. I had this life forming experience when I was about 12 years old. The only time I ever went to my dad’s office in my life, I saw a homeless person on the street. And I thought, Oh my God, why is there a person without a roof? over his head without enough food to eat, I knew nothing about mental illness. or drug addiction. I didn’t know anything about that. I just saw, oh my god, look how he lives. And look how I live that. Why is that? Not me wise? How is that and then that that opened this passion for understanding poverty. I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve been to 55 countries. My original question was what causes poverty? And then what I learned it took me many years was I was totally asking the wrong question. Throughout all of human history, nearly everyone was poor. The question is what lifts people out of poverty? and energy is a major part of that. My answer at the end was institutions, property rights, ownership, bottom up organization, hence the name, liberty, culture, habits, belief in the future, and education. So everything my wife and I have done in our life is those sort of three things that lift people out of poverty, but all of them require energy to transform people’s lives, why literacy spread cultural habits and large gatherings, the growth of human liberty, bottom up organization, all of those enabled by fossil fuels and by energy, I always say the two things that created the modern world was this growth of human liberty. And maybe I think the most seminal event there is the Glorious Revolution in England where the king had to give up power. And we explicitly gave more bottom up power, that obviously idmc has a long Genesis and that spread wider, but I always said human liberty is the primary driver and energy was the enablement enabler that supercharged in the middle of the 1800s. Although my son, a college student, studying philosophy at Wesleyan sent me a photograph of a book in the Wesleyan library library called foragers, farmers and fossil fuels. Ian Morris, he’s a classics professor at Stanford, he gave these lectures at Princeton, where you give a lecture, you lay out a thesis, people write challenges to it, and that the book is outstanding. And he he has a different view, I’m not sure I’m, I’m not sure how much he’s right or wrong, right, or where the reality is. But his theory is, reverses the order in that foragers meeting energy that powers humans beings, the invention of agriculture, all of a sudden, much more abundant energy, but you need a different societal organization to harvest much more energy cities, the arrival of language gathering, the world could access massively more energy through agriculture than they could through foraging. The sad part about that energy transition, it didn’t increase human life expectancy, it didn’t increase human health, it just meant we had more humans. So it did, it did lead to language, and cities and religion and, and all of our cultural things, it led to awesome things. But it didn’t improve the lot in life of the average person. We got more of an upper class, it made society more stratified. But the energy transition that changed everything was the arrival of fossil fuels, because it was just massively more abundant energy and massively more abundant energy per person. So his theory is that it’s the arrival of fossil fuels that enable the rise of human liberty. You know, his theory is we were able to end slavery, women got the right to vote, we became a more egalitarian society and a wealthier society, solely because of the arrival of a more abundant energy source. I’ve always said the arrival of human Liberty may make people free to engineer that. They innovate to do things differently. And humans are ingenious, so they develop fossil fuels. So I always give Liberty primacy and fossil fuels as the supercharger. He makes an interesting argument that maybe it’s really the reverse. It’s the supercharging of energy that allowed this societal organizations to change. Definitely recommend the book.
Robert Bryce 18:40
Yeah, that’s that’s an interesting point, because it’s a point that I’ve made in the past, which was that it was electricity, the advent of electricity, widespread electricity in cities, that then allowed more people to move off of the farm, more women to get work in the cities. And then that led it I mean, it was a long process for women to get the right to vote. But that but I think that electrification was a key part of that in the correlation of the time period of that electrification with the increasing rights of women to vote particularly in states like Colorado being among the first in the US to to grant that right was was key. But one thing that just sparked my that sparks a quick reaction, I mean, in Joel kotkin his new book, The coming of Neo feudalism, he writes about the this idea of liberty and the the ability of society to throw off the kings and then the and and the priests. And that it really that that started in Amsterdam in the 1600s, where it became a more open society that wasn’t controlled by an elite few instead, there was a very much more of an egalitarian approach to to the running of society and that that that’s where I’d never heard that has never seen that historical comparison, but I thought it was a really interesting one.
Chris Wright 19:56
No, I agree with Joel cockpits argument that this sort of an economic bottom up organization, if we want to say Where did that really roll in the modern world, it was in the Netherlands. That’s where that began, there was a flourishing of that in Renaissance Italy, you know, with trade and all that, that I think was also important, but it didn’t really catch fire. It didn’t continue on from there, it rolled backwards. But then if you try if you trace the ancestors of our bottom up economic organization, absolutely. It’s in the it’s in the in the Netherlands. And I think there’s, there’s a very interesting political and historical dynamics that may or may not have caused that. But I always go a little bit one step further, because the actual started, and of course, economic power, ultimately translated to political power. But so we have these, to me, the Glorious Revolution starts, the top down control, politically gives people a little more political bottom up control, I think we didn’t really set people economically free. In a large scale in any society. Until the 1800s, there was a law called the Registration Act in the United States In the United Kingdom, and general incorporation laws in the US 1839. Starting in the US with, we had a financial crisis, a lot of states couldn’t pay their bonds, they had to do something to try to generate more money. And instead of taking state legislators to grant you a limited liability, basically ability to form a corporation, it changed that you could just pay a fee and do it. In England, the core laws are famous. But I think even more important was the Registration Act where it no longer took a vote of Parliament to give you a charter and gave you limited liability, which is very important to have business structure. It then became the Registration Act, you just had to follow the law. And you could form things, both of these right around 1840. I think those are we had political freedom, you know, we still had slaves and women didn’t have the right to vote. So we had a long way to go. But we were moving forward and political freedom. But the ideas of Adam Smith didn’t really catch hold widely until the start of the 1840s. So to me, that’s why I give the primacy to economic freedom, it really got rolling and started to spread in the 1840s for oil and gas will have meaningful commercial production was until 1859. Or industries late 1800s. But close earlier than that, which is why Ian Morris’s book, maybe maybe maybe coal spread to the maybe coal was the fuse that spread liberty that I talked about, I don’t know which right, but I think it’s hard to argue that the growth of bottom up organization, human Liberty, and abundant energy, those to me are the two central ingredients that change the world. created the modern world enabled the modern world.
Robert Bryce 22:38
So those are I mean, I really like the way you’re describing that so how would you How would you brush around this but let me ask you directly because I asked this of a lot of people I interview How would you define your politics and
Chris Wright 22:51
liberty bottom up I’m a bottom up organization guy the world was top down throughout all of time. So in that in that setting, you know you don’t get much innovation you don’t get a Marta Sen. Indian economist said, freedom is not only the most efficient way to create economic growth, it’s an end in itself. To me, everybody has a different dream, a different wish, authorship of our lives in my sort of anti poverty programs. I think that’s what people crave the most people want to feel in control of their lives and author their future. So um, you know, I guess the simplest way to say what I am is I’m a libertarian, you know, I believe in in government has a very important role to play. But when government starts putting barriers in people’s way, and they wealthier educated people, they can work around any system, because we have a lot of those people today. But people new immigrants arriving in this country, you put them in minimum minimum wage law in you prevent them from getting jobs. I was 14 years old. We all worked our jobs with a $15 national minimum wage. Our kids aren’t going to work. Most kids don’t work today, that we’re inhibiting them getting skills, low income immigrant workers, we’re preventing them. licensure laws, immigrants from 80. They can’t just braid people’s hair, they do. But it’s illegal. They can strap fines, they’re not a licensed beautician with two years of education, they’re not allowed to do those jobs. So top down big government, it’s always justified in helping the people. But ultimately, it does its dominant impact is to put barriers on their rising up. So I am a passionate, free market libertarian. That’s what created the modern world. That’s the only thing that’s ever lifted people out of poverty, and for the people still in poverty in our country, and a third of humanity and insignificant poverty around the world. That’s the road for them to rise up. And I’m passionate about seeing that happen.
Robert Bryce 24:44
A couple quick thoughts in response to that. Well, I mean, this is one of the key themes in Matt Ridley’s new book, innovation and why it flourishes and freedom right, Matt? You know, Matt Well, and I’m, I’d like to call him a friend of mine as well. And I interviewed him on the podcast and he made that point very clearly. That, that you need a system in which innovators can make their things happen. And that within if you don’t have that, that, that, that, that that gets met that that desire gets crushed. And so I’ve used Ridley Now I mentioned him because I want to talk about Pinnacle technologies. And in fact, you’re mentioned in his new new book, I misstated the title, it’s how innovation works, and why it flourishes and freedom. And I interviewed him on the power hungry podcast just a few weeks ago, and he cites your work with regard to the shale revolution. At Pinnacle technologies, a company founded in 1992, I’m quoting from from Matt’s book, he said that Pinnacle was using tilt meter devices to help track the progress of fractures underground for Mitchell energy in the Barnett Shale. Now, George Mitchell has been and rightly recognized and Mitchell energy rightly recognized as one of the great entrepreneurs and innovators when it came to hydraulic fracturing. But you were there from the beginning? What What did you bring to the table and and how early on Were you involved with Mitchell in in understanding how these fractures were working?
Chris Wright 26:07
Yeah, I’d say it’s a little bit of a blind squirrel finds nuts story. Yes, I was not an oil and gas background. But you’re the blind squirrel here on the blind school. So so it was a few of us that were blind squirrels. But you know, we so we had very, you know, for very different reasons, developed some technologies that allowed for the first time to measure how fluid moves two miles underground. So fractures are fluid moving and cracking rock, people don’t think north south or east west, are they parallel to the Earth’s surface or perpendicular? So we developed some technologies that we can measure what actually happens down there. And one of the things we noticed was the fact that there are fractures mean, if there’s other fractures nearby, the interact, they change how each other grows. So it’s sort of very techie. But it was like a different understanding. People thought, if you pump food underground, and you create a lot of fractures, they’ll all coalesce into one frack. And therefore the contact area you can get with the rock is limited by how long and how tall the frack is. And if that’s true, then shale would never work. The permeability is so low, the ability to flow through the rock is so low, you need millions of square feet of contact area. And Heck, you can’t even get to 100,000. So shales, not yet. We knew that oils in shale for a long, long time, but it was thought like not possible to get it out. And so our measurements allowed us to see actually there is a way or there are conditions under which you can grow networks of fractures that might make shale work. I went,
Robert Bryce 27:33
and he mentioned here, that tilt meter device what I’ve never, I don’t pride myself on my vocabulary, what’s a tilt meter,
Chris Wright 27:40
so I tilt meter is it you know the carpenter’s level to see if your floor that shelf you put in is flat, it’s the same thing, just with electronics on it. So we can measure very small tilts of the surface of the earth, down to a part in a billion, the moon rotating around the Earth bends the crust of the earth, in a regular pattern every day, by hundreds of parts in a billion. So we can measure these tiny flexors going on, when you inject fluid deep underground, those little movement of the rock down there causes very small movements of the ground at the surface. So by measuring those movements versus time, and then solving it, hey, the Earth is wrinkling this way, what must be causing that underground. So we have
Robert Bryce 28:22
your your tilt meters were on the surface there on the surface. And then and measuring those micro micro fractures then several thousand feet below the ground.
Chris Wright 28:32
Correct. And then we had we had subsequent technologies to run tilt meters down in wellbores, we developed microseismic. So when you pump fluid underground, the rocks slip a little bit, and you cause essentially micro earthquakes. But there are earthquakes about the equivalent of you pushed a half gallon of milk off your table and it hits the ground, that creates about a minus three or minus four magnitude earthquake. And we measure those earthquakes underground. So a few so a couple different technologies to measure what happens. And then the story so and so I was giving a talk at East Texas, I think in 1997 about these potential network tracks and how that might grow contact area. And a guy named Nick Steinberger incredibly important for the start of the shale revolution. He worked for Mitchell, Mitchell, God bless him was a was a typical immigrant hard drive of an entrepreneur that wanted to figure this thing out. And Nick was the guy actually really trying these different frack techniques. And Nick was a innovative very open minded guy, the other guy think, and he was
Robert Bryce 29:35
and Ridley writes about him and several people have read about it. I’ve written about Nick since then, but but Pinnacle’s rolling this until I read Ridley’s book. I didn’t really fully understand it. Go ahead, please me
Chris Wright 29:44
and the other guy you’ve probably read about a fair amount is Mike Meyer Hoffer. Mike Meyer hopper worked at Union Pacific resource. This is a railroad company owned a bunch of land and developed its own stuff. And Mike Meyer Hoffer got a PhD from Austria. He moved to the US, you know a frack nerd. Me moved to the US work for Union Pacific resources. He said, why don’t we just pump water refineries, fancy chemicals and we do all this stuff? Hey, we got to be cheap. We need big fracks he started just these giant because people did small water fracks In the old days, he started these giant water fracks in East Texas, and oh my god, the wells were cheaper and they produce more gas. So we didn’t know why but they worked. So Meyer hoppers idea of these massive slick water facts, I think, technically most important step in the shale revolution. Meyer Hoffer meets Stein’s burger at a baseball game in Dallas. And open minded Steinberger said, Hey, I’ll try it. And I met Nick around the same time saying, hey, fractures can grow differently. Maybe we can create networks refracts, it was called refract reorientation. And so Nick drove this idea. Fortunately, he tried three times because the first two in the Barnett Shale didn’t yield a lot of gas. But he got approval to do three, the third one went off. And it was the first sort of economic well in the Barnett Shale. And Nixon determined guy Mitchell’s a risk taker. So they did more and more of course, I wanted to publish a paper on it said, No, you can’t write about it. You can tell people that we’re doing a lot of refraction, the Barnett but we’re not going to his competitive advantage. We’re not gonna write about it. So years went on.
Robert Bryce 31:19
And so that was that was that the SH Griffin? Number Four? It was a dish Texas was that that was the well,
Chris Wright 31:26
correct? Yeah. Which we which we put in slides, and we say that frack that changed everything. So yeah, late 90s. Vertical, well, vertical. Well, it’s lucky in the Barnett Shale, you’re able to get network tractor fractures from vertical wells, geologic, pure luck, almost anywhere else. You can’t do that in a vertical well, but you could in the Barnett. So network fractures were understood. There was a bunch of refracts, then of course, hey, what if we did the same thing, but we drilled horizontal and put a whole bunch of networks. So that introduced and so that came later around 2000, or 2001, is that maybe even early 2000s is the horizontal fracks with these big network tracks that really Oh, my god, these wells are, are phenomenal natural gas wells. And then but that horizontal drilling plus these networks like water fracks, that enabled it to work at all different rock types, whatever the stress state was.
Robert Bryce 32:20
And so in a very short time, the Barnett becomes one of the biggest gas fields in the world. I think it was number nine at a certain point. But what I want to read what what what Ridley wrote here, he said that pressurized water to just follow on on what you said, was creating cross cutting fractures in the rocks, greatly increasing the surface area exposed to the sand fractures were propagating a mile or more in one direction, but spreading hundreds of meters either side of the axis to and then this is what I wanted to come up with in the in this case, science came in behind the technology rather than vice versa, which is kind of what you’re saying was that, that, that the process was going forward, but it wasn’t fully understood exactly what was happening. It sounds like you had a theory, but you weren’t sure.
Chris Wright 33:05
Yeah, yeah. No, it was just a theory that different facts will do different things. It wasn’t Hey, this theory might lead to commercial shale. No, no, it wasn’t that maybe it was just, hey, you might be able to get network fractures underground. I at that time, look, I’m an engineer. I didn’t even know oil was in shale. I didn’t even know at that time that oil and gas were the source rocks for shale. I just thought fracks grow differently. Nick and Mike had more understanding at that time. So So exactly, I think Matt so right in that so many great things, they kind of come from trial and error and experimentation. And then they work. And that starts the chase for why do they work? And how do we make them better.
Robert Bryce 33:45
So it was the confluence of the the capital, which Mitchell was pumping a lot of money into this and not making any any return on it, but willing to keep going. And then people meet at baseball games, they talk over beer, whatever. And then this is not by accident by continued application of different technologies. Some of the shale revolution changed the world, I mean, fundamentally changed the balance of geopolitics. And I’ll give you one quick fact. One is some analysis. I just did this recently, the increase in oil and gas production in the United States since 2005. bp has their reporting and exit jewels. Now, the increase alone is 34 mega joules. That’s roughly equal to the entire energy consumption of India. I mean, yeah, it’s just a massive mess. It’s the biggest increase in energy production in world history, then there’s no you know, the distant second, I don’t even know what the distant second would be. But it’s interesting to hear this history because I have it. You know, I keep learning about it. And the more I learned about it’s just, you know, this is a remarkable set of circumstances that allowed this to happen.
Chris Wright 34:47
And Robert, the funny thing is, at that time, so late 90s, early 2000s, as these this technology leap is going on, and all of a sudden, oh my gosh, we can get gas out of the Barnett Shale. None of us had any idea how It would be, you know, this would change United States oil and natural gas balance, change geopolitics, we didn’t think that at the time, we thought, wow, the Barnett Shale is unique. And this thing really works. We did not appreciate the implications of this spreading four years later, once we did appreciate it, it was happening, as you’ve seen, I don’t know for a dozen years or so I’ve been talking about it. But I got a disclaimer, we had no idea at the beginning. We didn’t say God, this is gonna change the world. We just that, wow, this is funky. And the
Robert Bryce 35:28
science and the business came behind the technology. It was just a little let’s try this. And then the legend was within that Mitchell just said, well, dammit, why don’t we just try water? But you’re saying it’s my it was Mike Meyerhoff or that that said that, but it doesn’t really matter. The result was the same. So let me let me move on. Because you there was one interesting point about Pinnacle. And you, you talked about this in one of your recent presentations. I think it was maybe two years ago that that at Pinnacle you you said here it is one of our early business contracts was co2, co2 sequestration, injecting it underground. Let’s talk about carbon capture and sequestration, because there’s a lot of attention on that now. I have my own views on it. What what’s your view on that now as a as an opportunity to reduce co2 emissions into the atmosphere? I guess? What’s your view and second Kennett scale? Because that, to me, is perhaps the biggest stumbling block?
Chris Wright 36:25
So yeah, I mean, it’s huge and enormous. It certainly can be done. Humans are ingenious, and engineering could do that. But yeah, the magnitude of cost and pipeline and efforts to do it would be very large. Is it more likely to play a role in reducing co2 emissions than building wind turbines around the world? Absolutely. But is it the most viable way and a practical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Certainly not today. I mean, look, the biggest driver of reduced greenhouse gas emissions over the last 10 years, by far and away is just natural gas, displacing coal in the United States. And now, natural gas hasn’t displace coal in the power stack globally, yet, but it stopped the rise of coal, coal production, for electricity is plateauing. Natural gas is is starting to take up some of that growth. So look, it’s the same kind of thing humans are ingenious, could it be engineered and done? Absolutely, it could. One of the one of the harder issues there is extracting co2 out of flue gas. So one of the things that’s very intriguing to me on this lines is the alum process, you know, burning natural gas and supersaturated, co2 and oxygen only and get the nitrogen out of the stream, then you get a pressurized co2 stream that could be sequestered underground, could be used for industrial purposes could be used for oil production. But the total volume of co2 across the spectrum is, is quite large. So it’s a it’s a long term thing. But those early projects where we were monitoring, they were just injecting co2 into underground salt water Aqua aquifers, and the question was, does it stay in there? Or is it going to leak back up to the surface of the Earth? That’s what got me very interested in climate change. So 1516 years, for me, it was a new business line for our company. So hey, I’m all about new business. But my question was, is this going to be big? Is this going to be a future thing? And that led me to dive into understanding the science, the economics, what are the trade offs here and my view then, and similar today, 15 years later, is that the focus and money spent on greenhouse gas reduction today maybe is not the most efficient way to make the world a better place or to protect our environment. The world has been naturally decarbonizing, since we went from wood to coal to natural gas to nuclear, I think that will continue. But immediate problems is pollute particulate matter in the air, we talked about 3 million people from indoor air pollution, but 4 million people die from outdoor air pollution. These are big, current and immediate problems. So to me finishing the transition from biofuels, traditional fuels, to oil and gas is a massively bigger force to clean up the environment and expand human lives, then sort of willing around the edges with greenhouse gas emissions. To date, the investments there have been gigantic, the benefits have been minute. And I think it’s because we want to plow a bunch of money into today’s technologies that really aren’t viable for long run energy transitions. Instead of spending that money on research and technologies that probably will be the future of energy. We don’t know who those are yet, but I’m I went to college to work on fusion energy. I worked in graduate school, I worked in solar energy. I worked in geothermal energy afterwards, I was late to the oil and gas game. I don’t care where energy comes from. It’s just got to be plentiful, cost effective and abundant and clean to make people’s lives better. And and clearly to me wind and solar are never going to be dominant sources of energy in the world, they just take too much land too much materials, and they have that intermittency problem. And those are not challenges we’re likely to engineer around. We need dispatchable meaning ready when we need them. energy dense technology. So I’m a huge fan of nuclear both future vision and fusion that I went to college to work on that will arrive someday, humans will solve the energy challenge for sure. It’s it’s essential to life. But I think our focus right there these days, is actually slowing progress, not speeding it.
Robert Bryce 40:30
So let me ask you about them that because you talked about wind and solar, and I’ve written a lot about it thought a lot about it. Why are those will two related questions. Why is the oil and gas industry and particularly hydraulic fracturing demonized so much? And why are women solar? So politically favored the latest Gallup numbers? I think 70% of people want more wind 80% want more solar? Why are they winning the popularity contest?
Chris Wright 40:54
Well, because we’re terrible salesmen. Terrible, you know,
Robert Bryce 40:58
focus on business. Who’s we? Who are you talking about?
Chris Wright 41:02
Well, the oil and gas industry, okay. Now, look, we focus on our business, we’re not in the game of gathering subsidies, there are subsidies oil and gas, I don’t like them. I wish we had no subsidies and internet energy. I’m a libertarian, I don’t want subsidies. I want everyone competing to bring out technologies that move us forward, not get, you know, gather rents or special monies, but wind and solar because of the intermittency problem. And because of the giant amount of steel, cement and land it takes to produce power, they don’t have much hopes of being commercial on their own. And they’ve been very effective at garnering a huge amount of money. The net effect of that has been to increase electricity prices, not meaningfully lower co2 emissions. But that story sells. It’s romantic. The sun is there, the wind is there, you know, this his dream to go to 100% renewable? Well, we were 100%, renewable throughout all of human history. And, and life was miserable, then we just descended from about 100%, renewable, maybe we bottomed out in about 12, or 13%, in the 1970s. And maybe we’re up to like 15%. Now, we’ve added an incredibly small amount of net new energy, just because they they’re technologies that I think won’t scale. But they’re politically popular. It’s a good story. People buy into it. And people believe they’re cheaper. They’re, you know, they’re cheaper.
Robert Bryce 42:22
So I think you’re right about the romantic part of it. But let me the in my lifetime, I can’t remember a time when the oil and gas sector was more out of favor than it is now. Exxon was recently removed. Was it from the s&p or from the Dow Jones, that, you know, nobody wants to own oil and gas stocks very unpopular. ESG is a big issue in Europe. But BlackRock has said they’re not going to invest in coal plants. European development bank says no more hydrocarbons BP, British Petroleum is saying they’re going to reduce the amount of oil they produce. How do you I mean, this is, I guess, a business question and a personal one. And you’ve given a passionate defense of hydrocarbons. But how much are you back footed on this? I mean, how much of this is is is a is a passing? I’m not gonna say a fad is how much of this will pass? And how much is this going to endure? Because the industry as a whole, both financially and politically faces a lot of headwinds.
Chris Wright 43:22
We do indeed, all of what you say is true. We again, but but I’m not backing away. I’m leaning in on this issue. I want to engage on this issue. Environmental as well. Look, I’m a I’m an outdoor guy, my wife and I, we’re mountain climbers, we travel the world. I’m on the board member of an environmental group. I am passionate about wealthy societies protecting environment or whatever. So it’s not like I disagree on the ends. It’s just how to get to those ends. And I want to change the messaging. We there’s no other thing we talk about. What are the negatives with that? What are the positives, you know, does oil and gas production have impacts on the environment, of course, we use land, we drive trucks, we emit pollutants, we’ve emit greenhouse gases, we’ve almost 50% increase the co2 concentration in the atmosphere, but nothing comes for free. So to me, it’s the trade offs, you put out a wind farm, you impact a giant amount of land, you use an enormous amount of oil and gas to build a wind farm, the blades are made out of oil, there’s 100 tons of coal in every tower of every wind turbine inside the steel. That’s what steel is iron plus carbon that comes from coal to go into the steel 100 times more to get that coal into the turbine, so that the term renewable or clean energy is also just, it’s just, it’s just awesome marketing. A million years from now, a million years from now, way over 90% of the oil and natural gas underground will still be there. So it’s believed like a finite resource for soon to run out. None of that is even remotely true. It’s just the reserves of oil and gas underground right now were the greatest they’ve ever been known. And as we continue to consume more the amount we Know that we can produce economically keeps growing. And the part we can produce economically is still a tiny subset of the actual oil and gas underground. So the belief it’s a finite resource is wrong. The belief that you know wind and solar, somehow you put them up and you have energy for free, of course, is totally wrong. They have short lifetimes, it takes new steel and new metals, new materials, new stuff to build them. And look at wind and solar wind economically. I worked in solar and solar power, I like solar better than wind, because I think it has some prospects to play a meaningful role in world energy generation. Wind, I think unlikely, without subsidies unlikely ever plays a meaningful role in world energy generation.
Robert Bryce 45:40
But solar has 1010 times the power density, that’s the that’s the point where I come down, I was just well, factor of 10. That’s a big number, especially when it comes back to the land use issues and the other inputs that you’re talking about. But let me interrupt him just because I don’t want to keep you, you know, too much longer. But the you mentioned that idea, which I think is really key if if the shale revolution has fundamentally changed the fortunes of the oil and gas industry and that it’s, as Daniel Yergin told me, no, I’m sorry, it was you told me Well, there are no more more dry holes. But is that a problem though, for the industry in that it paint, it faces this potential of continual oversupply? Right? Because now there’s, there’s not a shortage, you but you have to be so good. It’s a manufacturing game. Now, I guess. What? If the supply is infinite? How do you maintain the control the supply, so the price doesn’t go to zero as it has, in some in some locations recently?
Chris Wright 46:37
So great, great question. And this is a thing I got two hats on my I want the world people to have better lives, longer lives, richer lives, I celebrate that fact, it has been awesome for consumers, huge disruptive innovations cause massive wins for consumers. And businesses have to fight hard to see if there’s going to be winners there, there’s always going to be more losers than winners. And the last decade for shale has been transformative for the world, over a trillion dollar savings to consumers every year through lower oil and natural gas prices. Not just in the US but globally. for low income people, moderate income people, this is phenomenal. But I liken it to the.com boom, all of the new so when I lived in San Francisco, 17 talents, it literally that ground zero for the.com boom. And e in the in the 90s incredible amount of money went in the internet is awesome. It’s going to change the world. They were right about that. But everybody wanted to invest land money venture capital, start a company I had friends that quit and started wines calm and pets calm and I should have a.com and raise money. So just giant amount of money, then it busted, right? There’s not there’s not gonna be 500 great profitable internet companies. So a lot of money, excited about something transformative came in over investment, terrible returns a huge crash. Now there’s much less, the internet is more concentrated. But there’s you know, and Google,
Robert Bryce 47:59
and you’re saying all this, and I’m thinking well, he’s talking about the oil and gas industry in the last in the last five years, Haynes and Boone what was it, they’re they’re you know, they’re they’re showing the number of bankruptcies in the oil and gas sector. Deloitte just estimated $300 billion in net negative cash flow in the oil and gas sector since 2010. I mean, these are massive losses. And you’ve seen you know, your own companies. I mean, you you’ve had some some real serious struggles. So how do you make money? How do you how do you stay afloat?
Chris Wright 48:27
We get through the.com bust, we’re in the.com bust right now, the shale revolution was, as he said, awesome for consumers. Terrible for business. If you invested money in oil and gas the last 10 years, the returns are horrible, giant amount of destroyed capital, I will say we started Liberty nine and a half years ago, our average cash return on cash invested since the day we started the company today 27%. The s&p 500 like 19%. So we’ve actually had good returns, even in a terrible market environment, average over that time period. But I think the next decade, we’re going to have less companies, less investment in oil and gas, smaller employment in oil and gas, which all sound negative, but that’s progress, that’s efficiency, us is going to produce more energy with less people at lower costs. Is that tough for businesses, of course. But that’s what that’s what bottom up organization is about. Everyone’s trying to outdo the other person and move forward. The ultimate, the ultimate winners in capitalism is consumers. Businesses have to fight and innovate and get better they go out of business. I do think Robert, the next decade will be better for our industry than last decade, which is a low bar. But we’re seeing a lot of companies go out of business. We’re seeing companies merge, like the shale revolution and American oil and gas production is essential to balance oil, oil and gas supply and demand worldwide over the next 20 years. What is the average oil price going to be and gas price be significantly lower than it would have been without the shale revolution? Absolutely. So it’s creative destruction. That’s, that’s the duty of capitalism.
Robert Bryce 50:01
Well, so let’s talk about liberty. Because this is kind of a business question, kind of a personal question as well as I suppose. But I mean, you’ve had some terrible financial results in the last last few months in July, you reported a net loss $45 million for the second quarter, same quarter last year, you made $65 million. So you got a you got a delta of 100 and $10 million. That’s a massive swing in fortunes, as I recall, you had to lay people off was is that is that right? At which I’m sure is painful. How do you just? Well, I guess the question is, how do you keep your equilibrium? Right? I mean, where you’ve been, you’ve you’ve, you’ve gone from zero to 100 miles an hour. Now you’ve had you, you’re in the in the school zone, and you know, that you’re getting slowed down dramatically? How do you? How do you manage that on a just a kind of a personal basis?
Chris Wright 50:50
Yeah, all that is true. It is a very cyclical business. And the reason it is I think, I think of Denver, when I grew up, they built a whole bunch of office buildings, Denver was a Boomtown, then the sin fuel, things collapsed, oil prices collapsed, and like they didn’t build an office building in Denver for 15 years. So imagine if your business was
Robert Bryce 51:07
there was a lot of empty office space for a long time. Yeah.
Chris Wright 51:10
So imagine being in the business of building office buildings. It was crazy. And then it went to near zero. If you build an asset that lasts a long time, office buildings lasts a long time, oil and gas wells lasts a long time, you get a cyclical industry, it only takes a small change in supply or demand, to reap, to slow down the building of these new long lived assets. And so this is the nature of our business, it’s always going to be that way. So we have to design and prepare our business for that. But COVID was, of course, quite extreme. Right? We have you know, frack industries, like a $25 billion a year industry, that frack services part that that liberty is in demand for that dropped 85% in 60 days, think of a giant industry like a 5% hit to the man’s top 80. Now, it’s been bouncing back since then. But those huge swings caused pain. I’ve never laid anyone off in my 28 years running oil and gas companies. So April was very tough. I had a brutal week, where we did lay off people, we are hiring those people back right now. Not all of them. But we are I think we will in the next 12 months, but very tough. And so going into this, I’ve just got to believe I love this industry, I believe it’s important. I know it’s going to be cyclical, and you got to design a business that can survive rapid up and downs, it is not for everyone. But to me, I know of no more I know of no industry more important for the, for people’s lives and for enabling our future. And I want to be in it in spite of having to ride a roller coaster.
Robert Bryce 52:44
Well, so let me ask you one question about the Schlumberger deal, because I just want to make sure I got this right. So it was kind of unusual that there was no cash involved. They correct me if I’m wrong, they gave you a bunch of equipment and personnel, and I’m assuming buildings and some, you know, some other equipment and so on. And they got a 37% equity stake in your company. Is that is that fair? Is that is that the right analysis?
Chris Wright 53:11
That’s exactly right. Because think we’re in this downturn. Right now, we’ve had people laid off everyone in our business is, is on reduced salary, and we’ve had to pull back our 401k match. So we’ve all tightened our belts to get through that. That was one of my biggest worries, people gonna say my God, I’m unreduced salary, I’m scared to death, and we had enough money to buy a big company. And that and that is a reaction people had. But that that’s, as you just said, Robert, that’s why we did it this way. Didn’t know dollar is going to change hands. We’re just issuing more shocks stock. So we’re splitting the ownership among our company with some new owners, and into a lot of equipment, a lot of facilities. I’m in one of these new facilities right now that we don’t own yet, but we will around January one, but a huge part of this deal, a huge driver, as you and I just talked, the shale revolution is a product of technology, incredibly important innovation. Liberty, our company has a little bit more than 50 patents in our in our I’m not a huge, actually patent fan. I love technology. But that’s a marker for technology. We’re buying 60 years of technology development and patent portfolio 400 paths, we’re buying technologies that coupled together with ours will bring a next generation of electric frac fleets, lower emission technologies, more efficient operations, better Big Data, Data Analytics to figure out how to get more oil and gas with less shale wells or cheaper shale wells, smaller footprints. So maybe the biggest driver of this was technology or combining really the leaders in shale technology into one entity.
Robert Bryce 54:34
And so when the merger is finished, and you’ll be the third largest frack hydraulic fracturing operation or hydraulic fracturing company in the country, then is that is that right?
Chris Wright 54:43
Actually will be second, okay. If you take all the oilfield service companies drilling, all that all of the oilfield service companies will be third in North American revenues. North American so not global. Halliburton will be number one Schlumberger, number two Liberty number three, Baker Hughes a long time institution number four, National oilwell varco. Number five, those are not free companies. Yeah, so all companies providing services to oil and gas development. So for nine and a half years old company, oh, my God, you know that our growth has been fast and exciting and never
Robert Bryce 55:20
will be, you’ll be the second largest among the frakkers. Then behind Halbert? Yes,
Chris Wright 55:23
Robert Bryce 55:25
Okay, so the only the only the only the only financial side of this is your issuing stock to make the transaction happen then. So it’s some some dilution of existing shareholders. Is that right?
Chris Wright 55:36
Exactly. That’s what it is. But we hold on to our cash and our ability to ride through this and to reinvest as we come out of it.
Robert Bryce 55:42
Okay, got it. Well, that’s a great summary. I’m glad to get that because I’d looked at the reporting on that. And I thought, it’s, it’s an unusual deal. We’re no caches changing hands. But one that is interesting, because it sounds like it’s really all about scale, and making sure that you have the scale in order to compete in this market, and electric frack so let me explain it, give you my understanding of it. Tell me if I’m right. So instead of using the big diesel fire, Jen, big diesel fired a V eight and v 12 v 16 engines that you have truck mounted, now, you’re going to use an electric generator and then run electric pumps instead of big diesel fuel pumps. Is that right? That’s that that’s what you’re getting from Schlumberger?
Chris Wright 56:26
Well, they actually do run the pumps electrically. That’s been an internal Liberty development effort for the last two years. So know the electric pump technology that’s coming from Liberty. But there’s other equipment on location that has to mix, the water has to blend in the sand, we call it the backside. It’s like lower pressure stuff, but it’s a little bit more complicated. slumber j has fully electric backside with these automated process controls and operates on itself. So we’re marrying there half of the frack fleet that’s electric, with the other half the higher horsepower half that we’ve been developing, because those two together, I think, will make a meaningfully better frack fleet that exists today. And you know, that’s still a year or year to two years away. But yeah, this accelerates that effort, and it’s lower
Robert Bryce 57:09
emissions and less noise on site is and that’s one of the some and savings in fuel cost. Those are the big, big advantages. You got them all. You got them all. No, there you go. See, I am paying attention sometimes. Absolutely. Okay. So just two last things, Chris, and I appreciate your time. By the way. This is again, the power hungry podcast, we’re talking with Chris Wright, the chairman and CEO of liberty oilfield services. So a couple of things that I like to ask all my guests, in addition to having them introduce themselves. So what are you reading you you you read a lot You said you’re a history buff, what’s what books are on your stand right now? What do you what what’s igniting your interest these days?
Chris Wright 57:48
So I read a lot. Yeah, a lot about what created the modern world a lot about history. My son’s a philosophy major, so I read with him, but let me mention a few books that that came out this year Should I think are very important. I’m not really who we talked about is a friend of mine. And Matt, that’s a friend of mine, because I’ve been reading his books, and I’ve loved his thought we think similarly. So it’s been great to know Matt, but Matt’s new book that you mentioned is is simply outstay
Robert Bryce 58:15
how innovation works.
Chris Wright 58:16
Bjorn Lomborg book false alarm, fantastic. It’s really making a readable version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC reports What do these reports actually say? He doesn’t talk that much about the science he just accepts Okay, the predictions already takes worst case and how much warming what does that mean to the world? What are the trade offs about addressing it head on or or adapting to it investing otherwise? So it’s sort of an overview of a very big and important issue? Michael Shellenberger his book apocalypse never apocalypse never I love that play in Apocalypse Now the movie but is it is it career environmentalist saying, you know, as his thinking as evolved as he’s been mugged by data, and numbers and all that, and he’s always been a very thoughtful guy. And, and, and my, my interviewer right now, Robert Bryce has a new book, and it was a movie last year as well. That’s incredibly important, and it’s about electricity, and how that’s impacted human life, how societies have evolved as electricity arrived, how societies that don’t have electricity would evolve and should evolve as they get electricity. This is that nexus between human quality of life and electricity energy in the in the broader perspective. So I encourage everyone, if you can learn a little bit more, and you got to read interest you. Vaclav smil, I think is maybe that phenomenal guy and energy, but you got to be a tech nerd, like me and patient, but he writes awesome stuff. It’s deep. It’s in depth. He’s he’s got no agenda. I think Robert, and Matt Ridley and Lomborg to some extent, just make it much more accessible to people to read. about energy, and really the nexus between environment, energy, quality of life, climate change, those are all hot issues today. And a lot of people are very passionate about them. But don’t go that extra step to dig in a little bit deeper to understand them. Politicians, they have all stripes, I have no interest to give a reasonable perspective on something that’s not a good source of information activists as well, you know, they have a belief, they have an agenda. They’re important in our society, but they’re not realistic sources of of information. So I encourage everyone, I just laid out four great books, they’re all this year. So they’re all up to date, those, any of those books will give you a better view into these trade offs among energy systems. Roberts got a podcast now as you obviously know, but I think just
Robert Bryce 1:00:49
right on, He’s really good. Anytime people stuff, it’s amazing. And I didn’t even give you any money for it.
Chris Wright 1:00:57
People understand energy and, and people’s need for energy and human history and all that it’s just so important in society. So it’s it’s something of a lot of a lot of passion, and a lot of opinions and views, but not much education. And I don’t blame people. It’s not taught in schools and playing again. I don’t know, I’m all for energy education. There’s great stuff out there, dive into it, it’ll make you excited. And, and knowledgeable.
Robert Bryce 1:01:21
So this last question, maybe it’s redundant to what you know what you’ve just talked about, but I’ll throw it out there anyway, because what I like to end on so what gives you hope? I mean, we were last few months have been challenging, right, with the pandemic, you know, there’s a lot of political unrest, there’s, you know, marching in the street, there’s a lot of racial strife. It’s, you know, frankly, you know, it’s not I gonna say I’ve been depressed, but it’s been hard to be optimistic sometimes what makes you hopeful for the future?
Chris Wright 1:01:52
You know, what makes me hopeful for the future is the dynamism of societies that are free. And look, you know, there’s fights in rich countries tend to have a pendulum swinging against freedom. People want more control, top down views, these people are too stupid, we got to design decisions for them. So we have a bit of a pendulum swinging that way in the rich countries. But in the lower income or middle income countries, the pendulum is dominantly swinging the other way, Africa has been a passion of mine My whole life. You know, I was in school in the 80s. And boy from you know, 1980 to the mid 90s. Africa did not make any progress. It was terrible. It had corrupt top down rulers, they weren’t trenched we didn’t get out of there. Now we have a number of countries where property rights and freedom are going on and our dynamic societies, Kenya is is taken off Malawi is moving forward. Maybe actually was an early and Botswana, early movers in some freedom, some growth, some dynamism in African countries, India, obviously, Robert, as you’ve covered in your book, and your movie, you know, is going forward. So humans are ingenious, if they’re set free, they make progress. And freedom is still very large today, in historical perspectives. There are forces against that I do worry about those. But human freedom will win in the end. And it’s made enormous progress the last two decades, I’m confident it will. And as it does, as Matt wrote, you get innovation, you get solutions, we’ll have a vaccine for COVID massively faster than ever would have been in human history. That’s technology. That’s human physical freedom. That’s dynamism. The world is less racist, less sexist, all the problems we have today, which are real, are better than they ever were before. And we’re all passionate about making them even better yet in the future. But if you look at the blog, broad sweep of history, the media loves to sell and decline narrative. It’s actually not true that societies had enormous steps progress. A Hans Rosling spitefulness. And other short, very readable book, it just, it’s just data. He’s a socialist public health doctor in Sweden, I love him. He’s awesome. But he writes about what’s actually happened in the world over the last 200 years. It is an uplifting story. So read what’s actually happening, you’ll be uplifted, not not, not that scary stuff that only focuses on the negatives. The positives are much larger, and I’m highly confident they will be in the decades to come.
Robert Bryce 1:04:18
Well, that’s great. That was a mouthful. You talk faster than I do.
Chris Wright 1:04:22
I gotta get I gotta get shorter answers.
Robert Bryce 1:04:26
Well, Chris, this has been great. I really appreciate your time. It’s been wonderful. We had a call to action. I asked Chris before we started recording, what’s the call to action? And his answer what we do, he just gave it to you is read more, you know, learn more about this and that that’s critical, and I completely agree with you. So Chris Wright, CEO and chairman of liberty oilfield services thanks a million for being on the power hungry podcast. To all you people out there in podcast land. If you like this one. Tune in next time you can go to rate this podcast.com slash power hungry and give us 14 2565 stars on there, whatever they allow you. But again, thank you for tuning in to this edition. Tune in again for the next episode of the power hungry podcast. Thanks again, Chris.
Chris Wright 1:05:10
Thanks so much, Robert. My pleasure. Take care