Chesapeake's dividend shows power of natural gas

Everything is falling into place for the abundant domestic fuel -- except Washington.

By Jim Cramer Jun 14, 2011 9:11AM

jim cramerthe streetDividend boosts warm the heart. That's why when I saw Chesapeake Energy (CHK) raise its quarterly dividend from 7.5 cents to 8.75 cents, I sat up and took notice.

 

These days, Chesapeake is typically in the news only when the story is about the CEO pay of Aubrey McClendon. I think it should appear in the news for being the biggest driller in this country. That's right. The biggest. It's the second-largest holder of natural gas in the country, and it is one of the top petroleum producers. It is at the forefront of every single shale, and it is trimming its debt and doing all the right things, including this first dividend boost since 2008.

 

The confidence this dividend boost shows is terrific, because if Chesapeake were too stretched in its campaign to lower debt and drill more oil wells, it wouldn't take this action.

 

It seems that, at last, the story is getting out that we are producing more oil than anyone thought we could three years ago. The blowback is amazing. The anti-drilling forces are massing because of water contamination. Has there been water contamination? Nothing is pristine in this world. But what we don't seem to realize is that offshore drilling is far more dangerous, yet our nation's policy is "all systems go."

Last week on "Mad Money," I interviewed David Demers, the CEO of Westport Innovations (WPRT), a company that can mass-produce truck and car engines that replace diesel and regular fuel with natural gas. We have so much natural gas that I doubt it would even move the needle if some of the major car companies were to start using Westport engines.

 

There is no doubt that if Congress were to pass legislation that gives a credit to truckers who switch to natural gas, we would be well on our way to bringing down the price of oil in this country. That's no longer in doubt, given the ramp-up of oil drilling.

 

Chesapeake's dividend boost reminds me that everything is falling into place -- except Washington, which seems to be stuck on fighting fracking and bringing to fruition electric cars that are impractical vs. natural-gas cars and trucks and that would plug into a coal-based system anyway. We need everything, but it is clear to me that the abundant vehicle fuel, the practical vehicle fuel, is natural gas, not electricity.

The industry just needs someone to embrace it, and it needs people like Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of Chesapeake, to keep telling the story and keep the profile up on our abundant oil and gas resources.

 

At the time of publication, Cramer had no positions in stocks mentioned.

 

Jim Cramer is a co-founder and the chairman of TheStreet. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO.

 

Follow Cramer's trades for his Charitable Trust.

 

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