The oilpatch, or the oil exploration industry, has always lived in a boom-and-bust cycle. When I was in my early 20s it boomed, and so did Houston. We were Dubai before Dubai was cool. Then prices busted in 1981 and the city followed.
The oilpatch had another boom early in this decade, with the rise of fracking. The idea is credited to George Mitchell, a man I interviewed while at the Houston Business Journal, and involves shooting water, sand and chemicals down a wellhead to break apart the rock, allowing oil and gas to seep out of the new cracks.