Forget oil—the real money is in natural gas.
Or at least that’s the message coming from a pioneer of the U.S. shale revolution, Chesapeake Energy (CHK).
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Once upon a time—when its stock was valued at more than $35 billion and its CEO, Aubrey McClendon, had the biggest pay package of any CEO of a listed firm—Chesapeake Energy was America’s best-known fracker.
But those glory days disappeared quickly, and Chesapeake became the poster child for the shale sector’s excesses.
About a year and a half ago, in the autumn of 2020, Chesapeake was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings after the coronavirus pandemic-led crash in energy demand proved to be the final straw in the company’s fall from grace.
And for the industry more broadly, the prospects for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports were looking bleak after a $7 billion contract to supply the French utility Engie went down the tubes on concerns over the emissions profile of U.S. natural gas.
Fast forward to 2022 and the picture has changed dramatically. Natural gas exports are booming!
Thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions, Europe is in the middle of an energy crisis. It is buying up as much American LNG as it can. Those concerns about emissions are long forgotten.
In the first four months of the year, the U.S. exported 11.5 billion cubic feet a day of gas in the form of LNG, an 18% increase from 2021. Three-quarters of those exports went to Europe. And European leaders have pledged to ratchet up their imports by the end of the decade. There is also a massive opportunity in Asia, where LNG demand is set to quadruple to 44 billion cubic feet a day by 2050, according to a recent report released by think-tank, the Progressive Policy Institute.
And even here in the U.S., natural gas supplies look set to be tight this winter. Hot summer weather and high demands for power generation are sucking up supplies and leaving storage precariously low. Continue reading "Chesapeake Energy All in on Natural Gas"