OKLAHOMA CITY – Chesapeake Energy has named Anadarko Petroleum executive Robert D. Lawler as its new CEO.
The appointment of Lawler, 46, comes after a tough year in which Chesapeake’s board ousted its founder and the company worked to shore up its finances.
Lawler is senior vice president for international and deep-water operations at Anadarko Petroleum. He also will join the Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake’s board. The appointments are effective June 17.
Chesapeake has a field office in Southpointe, Cecil Township.
Lawler takes over as Chesapeake continues selling assets to pare down an enormous debt burden. Chesapeake intends to sell $4 billion to $7 billion in assets this year. It has sold about $2 billion so far in deals that have either been signed or finalized.
Former CEO and Chairman Aubrey McClendon built Chesapeake into the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas by aggressively acquiring drilling rights on land throughout the country.
When natural gas prices slumped to decade-lows in early 2012, the value of those rights plummeted, as did the revenue generated from the gas produced from the land. That put Chesapeake in a financial bind from which it has been trying to free itself by selling drilling rights to other oil and gas companies.
It also exposed some controversial perks that McClendon had arranged, including the right to invest personally in all of the company’s wells. Investor uproar in the spring of 2012 over the perks and the way McClendon financed his investments led the company to remove its founder from the position of board chairman.
Even though subsequent internal investigations into McClendon’s activities turned up no improper conduct, the company announced early this year that McClendon would leave the company because of “philosophical differences” between McClendon and the board.
Lawler is a petroleum engineer with 25 years of experience in the exploration and production industry.