Ex-Chesapeake Chief Killed in Car Crash

Shale Innovator, Aubrey McClendon
Shale Innovator, Aubrey McClendon

Shale innovator and founder of Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon, died yesterday morning in a single-car crash in Oklahoma.

Related: Chesapeake Sues American Energy Partners

Police are reporting that McClendon was killed when his SUV burst into flames after suddenly crossing a center line and hitting a wall at a high speed. McClendon, 56, was expected to turn himself in at 11am yesterday after being indicted on federal charges of conspiring to rig bids for oil and natural gas leases.

McClendon founded Chesapeake in 1989 and came under scrutiny multiple times throughout the past several years. After he stepped down as CEO in 2013, Chesapeake filed a lawsuit againstMcClendon and his new company, American Energy Partners, alleging he stole confidential documents including maps of oil and gas prospects before leaving the company.

Mr. McClendon was a fairly controversial figure in the investing world as he led the most aggressive leasing strategy ever implemented. The company has leased millions of acres and in turn flipped a portion of the assets to other companies. The deals funded the company’s shale leasing spree.

Many hail McClendon as one of a handful of industry leaders who transformed the face of energy in the U.S. by pioneering hydraulic fracturing.

If you have to choose one person responsible for that growth, the only person you can really choose is Aubrey McClendon.
— Russell Gold, author of “The Boom”

Chesapeake has struggled recently, dealing with a flood of royalty lawsuits across several states on top of the prolonged downturn.