Aubrey McClendon, the U.S. shale gas pioneer fired from Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) last year, plans to take public the exploration companies he has formed since.
McClendon, who has raised about $10 billion to acquire gas fields in the past 16 months, told a conference in Dallas yesterday that he intends to start a collection of companies that each specialize in a single U.S. shale region.
McClendon’s American Energy Partners LP already has created subsidiaries focused on shale formations and pipeline networks from Appalachia to the Great Plains. He’s also the guiding hand behind two so-called blind pool investment vehicles that plan to gather drilling rights across the U.S.
“They’ll go public,” McClendon said during a presentation during Hart Energy’s A&D Strategies and Opportunities event. “They’ll have their own management” and he will “stand behind them.”
In an about-face from the transcontinental strategy he pursued during a quarter-century tenure at Chesapeake, McClendon is now sticking to an approach known as pure play, where each entity zeroes in on a single shale region. McClendon said his private equity backers prefer that focused approach to companies that are active in multiple formations.
McClendon, 55, was in the vanguard of the shale revolution that upended U.S. gas markets and paved the way for the renaissance in American crude oil production. At Chesapeake, he amassed a shale empire that rivaled Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s before he was dismissed last year amid conflict-of-interest probes and a shareholder revolt led by billionaire Carl Icahn.
Financial backers of his American Energy creations include First Reserve Corp. and John Raymond, son of retired Exxon CEO Lee Raymond.