WHEELING - Following months of controversy regarding his personal stakes in Upper Ohio Valley drilling operations, Aubrey McClendon is out as the chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy.
McClendon previously agreed to resign as CEO by April 1 as part of a plan to move the Oklahoma City-based company forward. Steven C. Dixon, in addition to his continuing role as Chesapeake's chief operating officer, will serve as the interim chief executive officer until a permanent replacement is hired.
Dixon takes over a company that reported a $940 million loss for stockholders for 2012. Fortunes improved as the year progressed, however, as the company reported $257 million in income for stockholders during the final three months of 2012.
Dixon has served as executive vice president and chief operating officer since 2006 and has held various senior operational positions since joining Chesapeake in 1991.
Chesapeake Chairman Archie W. Dunham thanked McClendon for his leadership since founding the company in 1989.
"Under Aubrey's strong leadership, Chesapeake has built an unmatched portfolio of natural gas and oil assets in creating one of the world's leading energy companies. He has been a pioneer in the development of unconventional resources, and he has also been a leader in the effort to make the United States energy independent," Dunham said.
"I am extremely proud of what we have built over the last quarter of a century, and I am confident that Chesapeake is in a great position to continue to grow and achieve great success in the future as it realizes the full value of its outstanding assets," McClendon said.
Over the past few years, McClendon took a 2.5-percent personal interest in Chesapeake's operations in Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties. This left some investors concerned because Chesapeake is a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, while McClendon's firms - Larchmont Resources and Jamestown Resources - are his own private businesses.
Still, Dunham said Chesapeake is doing well throughout its entire field of business.
"Chesapeake continues to perform well and is successfully executing our strategy to increase liquids production, drive capital efficiencies across the business and enhance financial flexibility to prudently fund growth," he said.
Chesapeake is the largest active natural gas and oil driller in the Upper Ohio Valley. To this point, most of the focus for drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations has been on dry methane natural gas, in addition to liquids such as ethane, propane and butane. However, Chesapeake officials confirm that these materials - as well as crude oil - are being drawn in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle.
Chesapeake drew an average of 290 barrels of oil per day from a single Ohio County well last year. A second Chesapeake Ohio County well yielded 195 barrels of oil each day, while a Marshall County well produced 305 barrels of oil daily.
In the Ohio Utica Shale, a Jefferson County well yielded 425 daily barrels of liquids and 6.7 million cubic feet of natural gas. Chesapeake does show Ohio oil production to the north, however, as one Carroll County well produced 525 barrels of oil daily.