Chesapeake CEO calls gas drilling critics ‘extremists’ engaged in ‘unfettered fear-mongering’

September 7, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr.

New York regulators are proposing a series of changes to ease the impacts of large-scale natural gas drilling, but if you listen to the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, folks who are concerned about the industry’s impacts are nothing but a bunch of extremists.

There are a bunch of stories out there about Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon’s comments today at an industry conference in Philadelphia. Here’s the Associated Press take:

The chief executive of one of the top U.S. natural gas producers has delivered a blistering rebuke of critics of shale gas drilling, calling them “extremists” engaged in “unfettered fear-mongering.”

Now, Chesapeake is clearly a big player in this industry, ranking second in a list recently compiled by ProPublica, which reported:

Chesapeake calls itself the most active driller in the country, with operations in 15 states, from the Rockies to Texas to Pennsylvania. The company is a good example of how “independent” doesn’t necessarily mean small. As of last year, the company owned an interest in 45,800 wells, of which 38,900 were primarily gas wells.

Chesapeake has built itself as a gas company, but it is increasingly looking for “liquids-rich plays,” according to its annual report. Gas wells generally produce oil and other hydrocarbon liquids as well in varying amounts, depending on the geologic formation. With oil prices high and gas prices low, many companies are seeking more wells that are oil- and liquids-rich, particularly in North Dakota, southern Texas and Pennsylvania.

Also, according to that report:

Aubrey McClendon, the chairman and CEO, is also the company’s founder. He has the unusual option of purchasing a small stake in every well the company drills . He received $21 million in total compensation.

A longer version of the AP story has more choice quotes from the Chesapeake CEO:

McClendon accused those critics of distorting the facts. He asserted there have been only a few dozen cases of methane migration of well-water supplies in northeastern Pennsylvania, and that residents were merely inconvenienced.

“Looking back, was anybody hurt? Was there any permanent or even temporary environmental damage? No, no and no. Some folks were inconvenienced, for sure, and for that we’re deeply sorry,” McClendon said. But he said the industry’s benefits — including lower home-heating bills, tens of thousands of new jobs, and millions of dollars of landowner wealth — more than outweigh the isolated cases of contamination.

He also said that new well-casing standards in Pennsylvania have largely eliminated the methane problem.

“Problem identified, problem solved. That’s how we do it in the natural gas industry,” said McClendon.

And there’s more:

In his speech, McClendon blasted organizers and participants in an anti-drilling rally held outside the convention center.

“Remind me: What value have the protesters outside created? What jobs have they created? You know the answer and so do I,” he said. “So it’s time that we contrast what we do for a living with what they do for a living.”

He said the opponents’ goal is to shut down gas drilling altogether.

“What a glorious vision of the future: It’s cold, it’s dark and we’re all hungry,” said McClendon.

UPDATED:

Oddly, none of these colorful quotes made the summary video of McClendon’s speech that was posted on the website of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and industry group:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/3G2QPkY9R0M" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

 

6 Responses to “Chesapeake CEO calls gas drilling critics ‘extremists’ engaged in ‘unfettered fear-mongering’”

  1. Tim Higgins says:

    Ken, A question for Mr. McClendon
    Will his company sign a statement of fact the they will not sell gas outside the borders of the USA? My bet is no way. This gas will be transported to shipping points and sold to the highest bidder on the open maket. We will have an environmental mess left in West Virgina with pipelines everywhere and no economic gain. The WV workers hired here will have to follow the pipeline or retire.

  2. Joe Melcher says:

    Aside from the clear distortions and omissions by Chesapeake we will not benefit by lower gas prices since they are deliberately trying to manipulate the price of Natural gas to benefit their bottom line. Gas drilling will leave every state that it has been involved in a contaminated mess for the citizens to clean up after. Gas migration is normal but in very low quantity’s that are .003 ppm the Duke report clearly shows a different methane footprint from the fracked wells the closer you get to the wells the larger the methane molecules are found in the water. Not to mention the geological impact this is having on the tectonic plates when they pump the old fluid back into the wells. Ask Arkansas how that earthquake issue worked out after they were ordered to stop the practice. Lets not forget the radiation the DOE has reported that this frack fluid from the Marcellus shale is 3x stronger then other shale deposits. The transport and disposal of radioactive material has certain federal guidelines that are being clearly violated.

  3. Steve Myers says:

    Tim,

    What possible difference does it make where U.S. gas production gets sold? If it were to be exported it would only be due to the fact that U.S. markets are completely saturated by existing supplies. Potentially reducing our existing trade imbalance by selling gas overseas is, in and of itself a positive benefit. Gas is a manufactured good, no different from the electronics we import from Japan. As a nation we have elected to ship a vast number of our manufacturing jobs overseas…don’t chase the gas industry out as well. No economic gain to be derived…not sure how you figure that given the fact that the U.S. could achieve energy independence and eliminate our dependence on the various Middle East countries that use of U.S. dollars to fund terrorism against us. Win-win as I see it.

  4. Meto30 says:

    In PA the gas industry is already here. It’s an open question whether the benefits outweigh the costs and whether this will be a stable sustaining industry over time. NY and WV have a chance to make informed decisions on how this resource will be used and exploited. Given PA’s experience and the effects of the promise of $ and jobs I doubt either of you will actualy get that chance.

  5. Francis Warder says:

    Why should government, either local, state or federal, get to make “informed decisions” on how the oil and gas that I own will be “exploited”, or when it is produced and owned by the operator will be “used”?

  6. Tim Higgins says:

    Steve,

    My point about signing an agreement to not sell this gas out of the country came from the industry talking points that( this will make us energy independent) why sell this gas to another country so we can buy oil from some other contry? As far as (no different from the electronics we import from Japan) i don’t believe that electronics manufacturing is an industrial site in a county setting for 9 months or more with heavy truck traffic, and air pollution.

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