Just one day after the DOJ unveiled its had indicted Chesapeake Founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon on federal charges of conspiring to rig bids for oil and natural gas leases, moments ago the Oklahoma Police announced that he was found dead in a car accident, when while traveling in a 2013 Chevy Tahoe at a high rate of speed he slammed into an embankment in northeast Oklahoma City The car burst into flames before responders could pull McClendon’s body from the vehicle, Balderrama said.
“He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” Balderrama said, according to KFOR News Channel 4 in Oklahoma City. “The information out there at the scene is that he went left of center, went through a grassy area right before colliding into the embankment. There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway, and that didn’t occur.”
Oklahoma Police reveals more details on the crash in the CNBC clip below:
The police said that it responded at 9:12 am to a fatality accident involving McClendon, and that he was traveling south on Midwest Blvd., between Memorial and 122nd St..
McClendon crashed into an embankment while traveling at a “high rate of speed” in Oklahoma City on Wednesday morning, said Capt. Paco Balderrama of the Oklahoma City Police Department. McClendon’s vehicle was engulfed in flame, he said.
“He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” Balderrama said.
The scene of the crash:
This is all that was left of his car:
And this is the embankment into which McClendon crashed, with even the local police implying the crash was a suicide as McClendon had plenty of time to correct his approach and he did not:
As Bloomberg summarizes, McClendon’s rise in the North American energy arena was rapid. He grew to become a towering figure in the industry, building Chesapeake Energy Corp. from modest beginnings to vast energy empire, thanks to his nimble championing of controversial hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling at a time when larger, more established players were skeptical of shale’s potential. At its height in June, 2008, Chesapeake was valued at $35.6 billion.
McClendon’s fall from grace was just as swift. The very gas boom he helped create caused prices to crater, reducing the company’s value by more than half within years. A shareholder revolt by Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management Inc.’s O. Mason Hawkins cost the CEO his annual bonus and the chairmanship in 2012, and McClendon agreed to resign in January 2013.
He was charged Tuesday by a federal grand jury in connection with orchestrating a scheme between two “large oil and gas companies” to not bid against each other for leases in northwest Oklahoma from December 2007 to March 2012, the Justice Department said Tuesday in a statement. McClendon called the charge “wrong and unprecedented” in a statement last night.
“I’ve known Aubrey McClendon for nearly 25 years. He was a major player in leading the stunning energy renaissance in America. He was charismatic and a true American entrepreneur,” said T. Boone Pickens, chairman of BP Capital LLC. “No individual is without flaws, but his impact on American energy will be long-lasting.”
After his ouster from Chesapeake, McClendon formed American Energy Partners LP and raised more than $10 billion for acquisitions. With financial backing from private-equity heavyweights including First Reserve Corp. and Energy & Minerals Group, controlled by John Raymond, McClendon’s new vehicle amassed drilling rights and exploratory stakes from the Appalachian mountains to Australia and Argentina before commodity prices cut the company’s growth and restricted its access to credit.
Earlier today, McClendon released the following statement regarding the DOJ indictment:
“The charge that has been filed against me today is wrong and unprecedented. I have been singled out as the only person in the oil and gas industry in over 110 years since the Sherman Act became law to have been accused of this crime in relation to joint bidding on leasehold. Anyone who knows me, my business record and the industry in which I have worked for 35 years, knows that I could not be guilty of violating any antitrust laws. All my life I have worked to create jobs in Oklahoma, grow its economy, and to provide abundant and affordable energy to all Americans. I am proud of my track record in this industry, and I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.” – Aubrey McClendon
Chesapeake released the following statement on news of his death:
“Aubrey’s tremendous leadership, vision, and passion for the energy industry had an impact on the community, the country, and the world. We are tremendously proud of his legacy and will continue to work hard to live up to the unmatched standards he set for excellence and integrity,” the company said in a statement.
Chesapeake said in a statement that it is “deeply saddened by the news” and its “thoughts and prayers are with the McClendon family during this difficult time.”
“I known him for many years — we’ve been friends for a long time,” Charif Souki, former chief executive officer and co-founder of natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy Inc., said in a television interview with Bloomberg Wednesday. “He is probably one of the most important persons in the shale revolution and responsible for what’s happened to the energy situation in the U.S. This is tragic.”
Moments ago even Carl Icahn chimed in:
1/2 Aubrey McClendon was one of the brightest men I've ever dealt with. I personally always found him to be a gentleman in our interactions.
— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) March 2, 2016
2/2 I am saddened to have heard the news.
— Carl Icahn (@Carl_C_Icahn) March 2, 2016