Chesapeake Energy Picks Anadarko Executive for CEO Post

  • Joe Wertz

Anadarko Petroleum

Robert Douglas Lawler, senior vice president of international and deepwater operations at Anadarko Petroleum, has been chosen to lead the Oklahoma City natural gas giant, which has been seeking a permanent replacement for co-founder Aubrey McClendon, who was forced out of the company on April 1.

Lawler starts on June 17. In choosing him, Chesapeake is getting “a relatively youthful but seasoned industry hand as it seeks to coax greater profits from its extensive oil-and-gas holdings,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Daniel Gilbert reports:

Mr. Lawler, who has spent 25 years at Anadarko and a predecessor company, also has experience directing operations in some of Chesapeake’s core areas, including shale-rock formations in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Texas.

Lawler faces some standard business challenges in his new post, the WSJ reports:

Among the most daunting is a persistent gap between Chesapeake’s spending and its cash flow, estimated at $3.5 billion this year, which the company is seeking to plug by selling assets.

But Lawler could encounter other complications that come with having to work with the ghost of McClendon, Gilbert writes.

Further complicating matters is Mr. McClendon, a charismatic executive who co-founded Chesapeake in 1989 and built it into a colossus. Mr. McClendon, 53, isn’t entirely out of the picture.

He continues to invest in every well that Chesapeake drills, a perk he can continue to exercise through June 2014, even as he launches a rival company, American Energy Partners LP.