DEATH OF AN OIL MAN: THE FINAL DAYS OF AUBREY MCCLENDON
(P1) Aubrey McClendon (above, left) awoke that Tuesday, as he had 10,000 times before, ready to work on a business deal.
(P2) McClendon, co-founder of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, e-mailed a COLLEAGUE about a riverfront development in his HOMETOWN of Oklahoma City, the place where he had been active in business for so long.
(P3) The 56-year-old sounded UPBEAT, optimistic — he sounded like himself.
(P4) Twenty-four hours later, he was dead.
(P5) By now, the world knows the story. On the morning of March 2, hours after being accused of WHITE-COLLAR CRIMES related to oil- and gas-DRILLING rights, McClendon climbed into his SUV. He sped north along a lonely two-lane STRETCH of Midwest Boulevard, toward the edge of the city, where he drove his SUV into a wall at high speed.
(P6) The news REVERBERATED through Oklahoma City, where everyone in the business world knew McClendon.
(P7) A week on, with many still struggling to make sense of it all, the CIRCUMSTANCES surrounding McClendon’s death are only now coming into focus.
(P8) Emails that McClendon sent to business associates hours before held no clues, no hints of trouble.
(P9) “It is hard for us to understand that he is really gone,” Tom Blalock, an executive at American Energy Partners told the four thousand people gathered at a MEMORIAL SERVICE.
(P10) Yet, right to the end, McClendon seemed to be making plans.
(P11) His rise and fall were LEGENDARY. He built Chesapeake into a $37.5 billion company, thanks to his involvement in the FRACKING industry. But the gas boom he helped create caused prices to PLUMMET, cutting the company’s value by more than half, and leading to McClendon’s removal from the company.
(P12) He then formed American Energy Partners and raised more than $10 billion to buy drilling rights from the Appalachian Mountains to Australia and Argentina. But that business, too, would soon COLLAPSE because of falling energy prices.
(P13) Like everyone involved in the SHALE OIL industry, McClendon — COCKY, BOLD, INDEFATIGABLE — had been DEALING WITH the collapse in energy prices for months. But his world started looking worse in the week before the crash.
(P14) At around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, a federal GRAND JURY in downtown Oklahoma City INDICTED McClendon.
(P15) Within hours of the indictment, McClendon stated, “I will fight to prove my innocence and to clear my name.”
(P16) Around 8:00 a.m. the next morning, Wednesday, March 3, a business associate received a short e-mail from McClendon.
(P17) Not long after McClendon sent that message, he climbed into his SUV and drove off.
(P18) As he drove north along a two-lane country highway, he picked up speed, traveling well above the SPEED LIMIT of 50 miles per hour. His car COLLIDED with a CONCRETE wall at 9:12 A.M.
(P19) The police have yet to officially say whether the crash was an accident or a SUICIDE, but their early comments suggested that the businessman may have INTENTIONALLY crashed his car.
(P20) “He pretty much drove straight into the wall,” police officer Paco Balderrama said shortly after the crash.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- What do you think was going through Aubrey McClendon’s mind on that final drive?
- How should a businessman or politician deal with DISGRACE?
- Have there been similar cases involving businessmen or politicians in your country recently?
- Why are individuals like Aubrey McClendon often described as “LARGER THAN LIFE”?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- White-collar crime
- Memorial service
- Shale oil
- Deal with
- Grand jury
- Speed limit
- Larger than life