Oklahoma City investigators have found no evidence that Aubrey McClendon committed suicide when he died in a one-vehicle crash in March (see Shale Daily,March 2). The chairman of American Energy Partners LP and the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. died one day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury on bid-rigging charges. Interviews and a review of emails and mobile phone record concluded that McClendon’s death was not a homicide. An investigation by the Oklahoma medical examiner found no alcohol in his system. A final crash report in March showed that McClendon, 56, made no serious attempt to slow the 2013 Chevrolet Tahoe he was driving, which slammed into a concrete embankment at 78 mph.
Articles from Died
Joshua E. Comstock, the 46-year-old founder, CEO and chairman of C&J Energy Services Ltd., has died unexpectedly. The company’s board was meeting Friday to discuss a plan for succession. He also founded Casedhole Solutions Inc. and served as its CEO and chairman. Comstock in early 1990 began working for J4 Oilfield Service, a test pump services company, where his primary responsibility was working natural gas production as a service contractor for an ExxonMobil Corp. predecessor company. He founded C&J in 1997 in Corpus Christi, TX, growing it from a small pressure pumping business with two employees to a diversified onshore completion and production provider in North America and the Middle East. Comstock led the company through its initial public offering in July 2011, which resulted in a market capitalization of $1.6 billion. In March 2015, he guided C&J through its $1.4 billion merger with Nabors Industries Ltd.’s completions arm (see Shale Daily, April 22, 2015). C&J at the time owned the 13th biggest fleet of trucks used in U.S. hydraulic fracturing operations. C&J CFO/President Randy McMullen said Comstock’s “drive to excellence, determination, can-do spirit and commitment to our company will inspire and stay with us always. On behalf of our board of directors, executive management team and employees, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”
B.M. “Mack” RankinJr., 83, who co-foundedFreeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.and served as vice chairman of the board, died Wednesday. Rankin foundedMcMoRan Oil & Gas Co.in 1969 with partnersW.K. McWilliams, who is deceased, and current ChairmanJim Bob Moffatt. In 1981, McMoRan merged withFreeport Minerals Co.to form Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the predecessor parent company, which has since become one of the largest natural resources companies in the world (seeDaily GPI,July 24;Dec. 6, 2012). “We lost a brother, a friend and a valued member of our board of directors,” Moffatt said. “Mack has been a great partner and adviser for many years.” Rankin, who had more than 50 years of experience in the natural resources industry, was a member of the All American Wildcatters and from 2008 to 2010 was chairman of theU.S. Oil and Gas Association. In 2010 the Dallas native received theTexas Oil & Gas AssociationDistinguished Service Award. Rankin, a graduate of theUniversity of Texas at Austin(UT), was a member of the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame and had received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Business Administration. Rankin was an avid supporter of UT and endowed, among other things, a professorship in petroleum land management. The UT Longhorn athletic dining hall is named in his honor. Rankin is survived by his wife, Ashley, and son, Richard.
John H. Williams, 94, a founding leader of natural gas midstream and pipeline giant Williams, died Wednesday at his home in Linville, NC. He had worked for Williams Brothers founders Dave and Miller beginning in 1938, and 11 years later he, his brother Charlie and cousin David bought the company. John Williams served as president and CEO until 1971 and as chairman and CEO from 1971 to 1979. One of his signature achievements was the 1966 purchase of Great Lakes Pipe Line, which at the time was substantially larger than his company. In his tenure as CEO, Williams’ market value increased from $25,000 in 1949 to $406.5 million in 1978. From 1964 to 1974, the average combined return to investors ranked No. 1 among Fortune 500 companies. John Williams is survived by his wife, Joanne, and three sons. “This is a huge loss to many of us personally and certainly for our great company,” said Williams CEO Alan Armstrong. “He has been an inspiration to all who have been lucky enough to know him.”
Patrick French, 64, an advocate for the U.S. energy industry, died Saturday in Bethesda, MD. French was president of the Foundation for Energy Education and executive vice president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP), which he joined in 2000 and helped to transform into a strong statewide network with members in 300 cities and 29 states. French was named an industry “legend” by Oil and Gas Investor Magazine in 2010. He wrote numerous articles and was a frequent energy industry commentator on television, with his efforts culminating in the ABC television pilot series, “The Hard Question,” which recently debuted in Dallas and Houston. French formed The Association Development Group in 1991 in Washington, DC, which worked with trade associations, including the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He also served on the board of directors of the Global Energy Management Institute at the University of Houston and on the board of directors of the National Corrosion Institute at Rice University.
California lawmakers are rekindling an effort that died last year to place chemical disclosure requirements on oil and natural gas producers that use hydraulic fracturing (fracking) well stimulation.
Walter H. Helmerich III, chairman of Tulsa-based Helmerich & Payne Inc., the largest active provider of land drilling rigs in the United States, died Tuesday. Helmerich joined the company that his father co-founded in 1950 and became president in 1960. He led the company as CEO for 22 years until 1989 when his son Hans was named CEO. Helmerich is survived by his wife, Peggy, his five sons and 12 grandchildren. Services are to be held Friday at Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa.
Linda Lay, the widow of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay, who died in 2006, has agreed to split two annuity accounts with Enron Creditors Recovery Corp. (ECRC) to settle all remaining litigation between Enron and the Lays. The Lays were sued by ECRC over allegedly fraudulent transfers that preceded Enron’s bankruptcy in late 2001. According to the lawsuit, Enron loaned Kenneth Lay money that he repaid with company stock; Enron also agreed to buy some of the Lays’ annuities for $10 million, which today are considered worthless. The settlement, which was completed through mediation, was “fair,” said ECRC, because Kenneth Lay’s estate is insolvent and Linda Lay has “extremely limited” assets. The settlement, which requires court approval, is to be heard July 7 before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez in New York City (The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Enron Corp et al v. Lay et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 03-ap-02075).
Bernard S. “Bernie” Lee, who served as president and CEO of the Institute of Gas Technology (IGT) for 21 years until his retirement in 1999, has died, according to the Gas Technology Institute. Lee was responsible for the development of various synthetic fuels programs involving coal, oil shale and liquid hydrocarbons and was a recognized expert on energy, particularly fossil fuel conversion technologies. In the past four years Lee had been promoting the development of massive electricity storage. In addition to serving on IGT’s board of trustees and executive committee, Lee also served on the boards of National Fuel Gas Co., NUI Corp. and Peerless Manufacturing Co.
Matthew R. Simmons, 67, who founded Simmons & Co. International in 1974, died on Aug. 8 in Maine. Simmons founded the Houston-based energy investment bank and had become an industry go-to expert and frequent critic. He routinely filled energy conference halls with his insights and criticism about oil and natural gas issues. Simmons started the investment bank in May 1974 to focus on the oil services industry, and by 1981 the firm employed 13 people. While some financial services firms abandoned the energy sector through the 1980s, Simmons & Co. persevered and began to work on bankruptcy workouts and debt restructurings. In 1995 Simmons & Co. redefined itself to offer “total energy services,” with a focus on companies with natural gas plants, pipelines and other gathering systems, as well as the downstream sector. In 1998 an office was opened in Aberdeen, Scotland. Two years later the firm completed its first investment banking assignment in the exploration and production sector, now a major part of the firm’s business. Simmons was a proponent of the “peak oil” theory; in his book Twilight in the Desert he offered detailed research that he believed indicated that the world was running out of fossil fuels. Simmons retired as chairman emeritus of the bank in June to devote his full time to the Ocean Energy Research Institute, which he founded in 2007. The institute is a think tank and venture capital fund that focused on the challenges of the U.S. offshore renewable energy industry, including wind energy.