The Shale Boom Injects Much Needed Economic Vitality into the Heartland

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For many years, the American states lying well between the East and West Coasts have been depicted as places whose economic vitality was draining away, whether slowly and consistently or in more dramatic fashion. While there has been typically been a good deal of truth to such characterizations, those kinds of attitudes have sometimes obscured interesting and significant developments that have worked in the opposite direction. Probably clearest among these in recent years has been the effects of the shale oil boom that has been of such significance in places like North Dakota and Oklahoma. As additional details in one online report make clear, that activity has not only put many millions of dollars into the coffers of oil production specialists, it has also helped make a great many ordinary Americans rich, as well.

In fact, as the piece points out, at least 12 million landowners and others now receive royalties from oil and gas production, a figure that has skyrocketed in recent years. Where formerly a piece of farmland might have teetered right on the edge of commercial viability, the discovery of shale oil and gas deposits underneath it will often have turned it into a source of real wealth. In a great many cases, families that might have previously considered selling land for whatever price it could have fetched have found themselves instead entertaining offers from a number of eager oil and gas producers.

That is one important way by which the shale boom has produced a definite economic impact in places that could very well use it. Another important development that often goes overlooked is that individuals have also become a lot more likely than in the past to own shares in oil production projects themselves. In large part due to regulatory liberalization that has allowed smaller ventures to issue stock without going through the onerously expensive public offering process, the number of oil and gas wells that are backed by individual investors has also shot up sharply in recent years. Given the returns that many of these projects produce for their backers, this has helped brighten an economic landscape in places that the national media sometimes paints as almost entirely shrouded in shadow and decline.