McClendon Exits Chesapeake, Well-Bonused “Friends” Replace Him

Aubrey McClendonAs of today, Monday, April 1, 2013, Chesapeake Energy has made the biggest error in its 24-year existence. Today marks the exit of Chesapeake’s co-founder and CEO, Aubrey McClendon. In his place, the company announced Friday they have created an “Office of the Chairman” which will be populated with three people: Archie Dunham, non-executive chairman of the board; Steven Dixon, who is currently COO and will take on the role of acting CEO to replace Aubrey (for now); and Dom Dell’Osso, CFO. Apparently it takes three people to replace Aubrey–that should tell you something right there.

The colossal error is in letting McClendon go in the first place, which is being done largely because of pressure from corporate raider Carl Icahn (see Breaking: Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Gets Pink Slip). You might think that Steve Dixon and Dom Dell’Osso would leave with their old friend and comrade–but they’re two of three people bribed paid a whopping $15.4 million bonus to stick around (see Chesapeake Pays $15.4M to Prevent Exodus of Top Talent). After being showered with millions, Steve and Dom said, “Aubrey who?”…
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Cuomo Source Spills Beans on Real Reason for NY’s Fracking Delay

A highly-placed Cuomo source has confirmed to the New York Post what many of us have suspected all along: The reason fracking has been delayed in New York is because of one person—Gov. Andrew “Ditherer” Cuomo. And the delay has nothing whatever to do with science. He’s delayed his decision on whether or not to allow fracking because he perceives no political benefit either way he decides. The rules crafted by the DEC are so over-the-top strict that he’s afraid no one will bother to show up and drill if he pulls the trigger to allow fracking. Plus, if he approves it, he’d have to put up with mouthy ex-brother-in-laws (see The Andy & Junior Show: Part Deux). What a drag that would be…

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Handy List of OH Utica Shale Permits, by County & Driller

Our friends at Energy in Depth – Ohio have assembled an excellent report (below) for how many drilling permits have been issued in Ohio for Utica Shale drilling, both by county and then by driller, as of the end of March. This is the best list of its kind we’ve seen so far (and one we wish we had created!). Thanks EID!

If you’re a landowner or business interested in who’s drilling and whether or not there’s activity coming to your county, check out the list below. Permits are the single best indicator for where drilling will soon happen. (Shameless plug: For information like that below charted on high-quality maps making it easy to understand, check out MDN’s Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook.)
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Who’s Who in Leasing & Drilling the Utica Shale?

Many people eagerly await Ohio’s annual production numbers, which will (hopefully) be out sometime later this week. Drillers had to file their production numbers no later than yesterday, Mar. 31. MDN has brought you some of the recent “idle” speculation that inevitably happens while waiting. The speculation lately has been along the lines of, “Is the Utica really all it’s cracked up to be?” (see More Angst Over OH Utica’s Oil Prospects). It is natural gas liquids (NGLs) and oil that makes the Utica special. If it turns out Utica production is mostly dry gas (methane only), it will be a major disappointment.

Investor websites are famous for analyzing this stuff to death before any hard data is available. We say: Let’s see what the numbers actually say! In the meantime, yet another “idle speculation” article on one of our favorite sites, The Motley Fool, once again talks about the potential for the Utica. However, a big part of the article interests us. It’s a handy, condensed roundup of the major energy companies that are active in the Utica Shale:
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Democrat Left Eating Their Own, Attempt to Destroy Ernest Moniz

Every now and again (doesn’t happen often), the Democrat left in our country will “eat one of their own.” It’s happening right now with Dr. Ernest “Hair” Moniz, President Obama’s choice to head up the Dept. of Energy after the resignation of Dr. Steven Chu. Dr. Moniz is a very smart guy–like Albert Einstein smart. He’s a nuclear physicist and director of the MIT Energy Initiative. Moniz believes in global warming flummery and he’s a Democrat, so you’d think the left would love him. Thing is, he also believes the best way to get to the alternative energy nirvana that the left pines for is to use clean-burning natural gas and fracking to get there. That position crosses the line for many in the whacko-eco movement.

And so, day after day we see a steady stream of articles that give Moniz the equivalent of an economic anal exam (he’s very wealthy), questioning every consulting gig and job he’s ever held, trying to tie him to “industry” so they can destroy his reputation and his chances of ascending to the top spot at Energy. Here’s just one example from (not surprisingly) Bloomberg:
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Penn State Establishes New Institute for Natural Gas Research

Penn State is one of only 17 U.S. institutions with an accredited petroleum engineering program. As of March, it’s now one of just two with the term “natural gas” in the title of its program. In early March, Penn State announced the establishment of the Institute for Natural Gas Research (INGaR). The new program is a collaboration of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and the College of Engineering with professors from some other departments too.

INGaR’s aim is to keep Pennsylvania “at the forefront” of the shale gas drilling industry:
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Dominion’s Cove Point LNG Facility Achieves Important Milestones

Dominion announced this morning it has achieved several major milestones for advancing its Cove Point, Maryland LNG export facility, including contracts with Japan and India to take 100% of the LNG they can produce for export. The Cove Point LNG export facility, which includes the capability to liquefy natural gas into LNG, will cost $3.4 – $3.8 billion to build–a staggering number. It will provide jobs and an economic boost to the entire East Coast, especially Maryland and Virginia.

The Dominion press release from this morning:
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New Landowner Group Forms in Tyler County, WV

A new West Virginia landowner group has formed in Tyler County with a mission to educate landowners and non-landowners alike, and to benefit landowners that join the group by pooling their property together to negotiate a lease. The new group, called the Middle Island Marcellus and Utica Mineral and Landowners Group, currently has 85 members and 8,000 acres. Landowners in Tyler are fortunate to be located in an area where both the Marcellus and Utica are oil and liquids rich.

More on the group and its objectives (and how you can join):
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Phelim McAleer Storms Across PA with FrackNation Screenings

Phelim McAleer, the creator, director and producer of the phenomenal documentary FrackNation, is storming across Pennsylvania starting later this week with personal appearances at a number of PA screenings for his film. MDN has each screening listed on our Calendar page (check for times and locations). FrackNation is also being shown across Ohio during the month of April, although Phelim is not appearing at those screenings.

Here’s the complete list of upcoming cities where Phelim will attend a screening to answering questions from the audience:
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