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Chesapeake Poaches Anadarko Senior Executive to Take CEO Position

After a three month search, Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), the second largest natural gas producer in the US, announced on Monday that it has found a suitable replacement for the position vacated by Aubrey McClendon in April; and they have poached their new chief executive officer from no less than rival Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

Robert Douglas Lawler, the senior vice president of international and deepwater operations at Anadarko (NYSE: APC), will take over as CEO of Chesapeake on the 17th of June.

Lawler, who worked for 25 years at Anadarko and Kerr-McGee (before Anadarko bought them out in 2006), is a petroleum engineer with experience in onshore and offshore wells, with Anadarko’s LNG project in Mozambique being one of his latest big projects.

Related article: Finding Bargains in North America’s Hottest Shale Plays

Fadel Gheit, an analyst at Openheimer, said that Lawler “is coming into a company that has serious challenges. It's a mine field that he has to navigate through, but he's very experienced and I feel he will live up to the challenge.”

One of the main problems that Lawler must address is Chesapeakes debt, which after several years of low natural gas prices, coupled with heavy spending to secure properties in shale formations, has left the company $13 billion in debt.

After McClendon was stripped of his position, investors O. Mason Hawkins of Southeastern Asset Management, and Carl Icahn took control of the board, introducing severe spending cuts, and focusing drilling operations on the highest producing fields.

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com


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