Baker Hughes, Halliburton and other oilfield services companies are increasing their spending on research and development in an effort to speed up the U.S. energy production boom, observers say. "From 2004 to 2012, the development of shales was basically, hit it with a big sledgehammer and see what comes out," said Richard Spears, vice president of Spears & Associates. "Now the question is who can do it the best and optimize the process. Shales aren't tube socks, a one-size-fits-all thing."

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