The broader oil and gas discussion is still relatively dominated by the US shale boom, and this is not without its reasons, as the subject comes with numerous implications.
From a stock-picker’s perspective (and especially a self-directed stock picker's perspective), getting in on rising US oil and gas production is only going to become more difficult as the best plays in the land empty out their riches, becoming less economically viable and, of course, less profitable. Meanwhile, the foreign shale booms that will likely be unlocked by future innovation in exploration and drilling technology are still a ways off, if not in some cases more theoretical than practical.
But this is by no means to suggest that investors have no recourse. The claim that US shale will make the nation “energy independent” is an increasingly fantastical, if not in some cases deliberately deceitful one, but we are still looking at production growth through at least 2020.
All of that oil and gas will need to be transported somehow. The last year has seen incidents that do not bode well for transportation via rail; trains were already being used in midstream operations from places like the mighty Bakken formation, were a paucity of tubing has created losses for producers.
Investment in pipelines and infrastructure is set to increase in the next few years in the US, and this should create some opportunities for those willing to do their homework. In a labyrinthine, complex industry such as oil and gas, it is extremely useful to be familiar with the smallest details, the nuts and bolts, even if this means shifting one’s brain from financial thinking to mechanical/engineering thinking.
Besides, there’s no excuse not to these days. You don’t need to consult your outdated Encyclopedia Britannica when you’ve got the internet, and its wealth of instructive videos, including the one below that provides a concise but thorough overview of the pipeline process.