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Aubrey McClendon and the Destruction of the Natural Gas Market

Aubrey McClendon is gone – or at least he’s on his way out from Chesapeake energy (CHK).  But the destruction of the natural gas market, where he was the ringleader in the shale gas land grab and cratering well price, is his real legacy, and not likely to be recovered from anytime soon.  While Aubrey will now go into a very wealthy retirement, he leaves behind a decimated market and a long road to making natural gas a true transition fuel to energy independence and a renewable future. 

The market failed us, failed all of us as a nation – because it couldn’t prevent McClendon and Chesapeake from poking holes randomly through Texas and Western Pennsylvania in search of shale gas and ultimately flooding the market with it, cratering the price and its profitability.  And it is margins and profitability that make markets work. 

And while McClendon made himself the best paid CEO in the nation, he assured us that our necessary and important transition to natural gas would be made much more difficult, if not impossible:  you just cannot support innovation without profits.  It is not just “cheap gas” that is the answer to spurring economic growth, grow manufacturing and sell natural gas as a transport fuel or even as an export fuel here in the US – it is margins and it is profits.

And Chesapeake destroyed that for everyone in the gas game (and destroyed themselves too), with forced development…

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