In his late 80s, Mr. Mitchell turned his attention back to another shale play, this time bankrolling rigs in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania for a company headed by his son Todd and Joe Greenberg, a geologist. The Marcellus Shale formation has since emerged as the largest U.S. gas resource, holding the equivalent of 330 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, according to ITG Investment Research.
The new abundance of cheap gas transformed the U.S. industrial landscape, prompting new investment in power plants that use gas to generate electricity and accelerating the demise of older coal and nuclear plants that were more expensive to repair and operate.
Chemical manufacturers, including Exxon Mobil, that use gas as the raw material for their products planned to build new plants in the United States to take advantage of the resources. Pipeline networks to carry the newfound gas to market multiplied across the country. And gas drillers promoted natural gas-powered trucks and cars for the nation’s highways and roads.
Import facilities built earlier in the 2000s, when concerns in the United States focused on dwindling oil and gas supplies, are now seeking to add export terminals to send U.S. gas overseas in the form of liquefied natural gas.
“He was a visionary,” said James Rebello, who worked at Prudential Securities when it financed a small part of the exploration and production side of Mr. Mitchell’s group. Rebello and his colleagues told Mr. Mitchell that they could lend him more if he combined the oil and gas business with the real estate unit.
“But he was adamant that he wanted to keep those separate,” Rebello said. “He was right, and it worked out in the long run.”
Mr. Mitchell donated more than $175 million, with the largest gifts going to Texas A&M, the University of Houston and MD Anderson Cancer Center. His wife, Cynthia, who died in 2009, helped develop the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion an outdoor concert venue, in The Woodlands. The Mitchells had 10 children.
— Bloomberg News