PITTSBURGH - One of America's corporate giants is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling, or fracking. General Electric Co. is opening a laboratory in Oklahoma, buying up related companies and placing a big bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients and reduce the environmental and health effects of the boom.
"We like the oil and gas base because we see the need for resources for a long time to come," said Mark Little, a senior vice president. He said GE did "almost nothing" in oil and gas just over a decade ago, but has invested more than $15 billion in the past few years.
GE doesn't drill wells or produce oil or gas, but Little said the complexity of the fracking boom plays into the company strengths. Wells are being drilled horizontally at great depths in a variety of formations all around the country, and that means each location may require different techniques.
"My own view is there are things that can be managed," Little said of environmental concerns about drilling, adding that drilling operations need to be carefully monitored.