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Chesapeake Makes Some Noise at RNC


America's champion of natural gas, if not fiscal management, has taken to the convention floor.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Beleaguered oil corporation Chesapeake Energy (CHK) has again pushed its way into the public gaze -- and this time not for any shortfall or head-scratching moral outrage. Instead, it's hawking compressed natural gas with the clean fuel consortium CNG Now, of which it is a member, on the floor of the Republican National Convention. Florida offers a mere five natural gas fueling stations, but CNG representatives say it is a ripe market for the ecologically mindful commodity: 62% of the state's electricity derives from natural gas. We screen-grabbed a tweet by CNG at the RNC:

Chesapeake's CEO Aubrey McClendon was recently outed by Reuters for hedging Chesapeake's own commodities and staking interests in his company's wells in exchange for $1.3 billion in personal loans. It's a little bewildering that Chesapeake, recovering from McClendon's takedown, has been trotting out the benefits of compressed gas at the year's premiere political convention, herding attendees into their booth with free espresso and lattes.

Why does Chesapeake crave public attention? In some ways, it seems like the enfant terrible of American oil rather than the noble servant of public interest, which would not be an inapposite image for a green-fuel trader. In this sense, its commitment to clean fuel as a bipartisan issue (and this would hold true for all of the oil companies consolidated in CNG Now, including NGV America, American Clean Skies Foundation, et al.) could be considered a way of playing both sides, the left and right, instead of a simple political neutralism.

As NewsOK reports, Norman Herrara, director of market development for Chesapeake, said, "CNG fits well with themes of energy independence, environmental protection, and cost savings at this year's convention." Expect Chesapeake's rhetoric to slip into a more ethical register when it shows up at this year's DNC. But this sort of sloganeering is just what makes Chesapeake's assets so strong, as Southeastern Asset Management suggested earlier this month when it bought 3.12 million shares in the severely leveraged company, tightening its investment to 13.5%.

Staying in the public eye seems to be paying off. Cash-rich Chevron (CVX) is rumored to be considering a bid for Chesapeake.
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