An Anadarko Petroleum executive has been chosen as the new leader of Chesapeake Energy, the company announced Monday.
Robert Douglas Lawler, 46, is the senior vice president of international and deep-water operations for Houston-based Anadarko. He is familiar with Oklahoma, having worked for Kerr-McGee Corp. before its acquisition by Anadarko in 2006.
Lawler will be Chesapeake's second CEO since its founding in 1989. Aubrey McClendon created Chesapeake and oversaw the company until his retirement April 1.
Lawler will begin work at Chesapeake June 17. He is a petroleum engineer with 25 years of experience in upstream exploration and production. He also has experience operating in Chesapeake's core areas of Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Texas.
Chesapeake Board Chair Archie Dunham praised Lawler's knowledge of the oil business, engineering skills and financial acumen in announcing the selection.
"Doug is a talented and proven executive with the ideal skill set to lead Chesapeake forward and capitalize fully on our world-class assets. Throughout his 25 years in the upstream E&P industry, Doug has earned a reputation as a highly engaged and knowledgeable leader who delivers superior operational performance and capital efficiency," he said.
Anadarko is the nation's second-largest independent upstream company, with a market capitalization of $45 billion.
"I am honored and excited to be joining Chesapeake Energy with its unparalleled asset portfolio, focused management team and very talented and dedicated employees," Lawler said in a statement. "There is signification value in Chesapeake's asset base and the growth potential of the company is tremendous. I look forward to accelerating momentum that the Chesapeake team has built to generate value for our shareholders in the years ahead."
Lawler faces challenges at Chesapeake, including steering the company away from its charismatic co-founder. McClendon still owns a percentage of company wells and may continue to do so through June 2014, even as he has started a rival energy company down the street from Chesapeake's headquarters.
More pressing is Chesapeake's spending. Although the company has slashed its capital spending and sold roughly $14 billion of assets, its spending is estimated to outpace cash flow by $3.5 billion this year.
Chesapeake shares were up $0.65 to $20.92 at 10:46 a.m. Monday.