When David Spigelmyer helped found the Marcellus Shale Coalition in 2008, he expected big growth from an industry that was in its infancy.
Now, he returns to the organization he helped found to work as its president, serving a coalition -- and an industry -- that has grown faster than even he expected.
Mr. Spigelmyer, former vice president of Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s Appalachia division, will replace Kathryn Klaber, who had worked as CEO since 2009, the coalition announced Tuesday.
"It came at an interesting time for me," said Mr. Spigelmyer, whose position at Chesapeake Energy was eliminated in August, shortly after Ms. Klaber announced she was leaving the coalition.
Mr. Spigelmyer will oversee a growing organization, formed in 2008, that works as an advocate for oil and gas developers in the Marcellus region. The Robinson-based coalition has expanded to include 45 full member companies and more than 200 associate members.
In 2011, the most recent data available, the coalition's revenue was $7.3 million, up from $3.6 million in 2010, according to the organization's 990 tax form. It employs 16 full-time staff members at five offices throughout Pennsylvania.
Shale development has accelerated faster than even Mr. Spigelmyer anticipated in the early days of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. He projected in 2008 that Pennsylvania, which imported 75 percent of its natural gas at the time, would become a net exporter of natural gas by 2014. But the state became natural gas independent in 2011 and currently produces 10 percent of all natural gas in the country.
"We are a leading producer in the United States where we never were before," Mr. Spigelmyer said.
He will focus many of his efforts on outreach with the public and with policymakers, as the impact of hydraulic fracturing is debated by environmental groups. He plans to also push for statewide regulations, as opposed to the current systems of local government control. A case in the state Supreme Court, challenging parts of Pennsylvania's Act 13 that regulates gas development, could change that.
Ms. Klaber called the status quo the "Achilles' heel" of the state system, and Mr. Spigelmyer agreed, "It is a challenge." But, he said, coalition members have worked closely with local governments in the past and will continue to do so, regardless of how the Supreme Court rules.
Ms. Klaber will stay with the coalition during a transition period and will travel to London to promote industry growth. She said Tuesday she will announce her plans next month.
At Chesapeake Energy, Mr. Spigelmyer oversaw government relations, regulatory policy and communications, among other responsibilities. His position was one of several eliminated this summer in a massive corporate reorganization plan by the Oklahoma company.
Before working for Chesapeake, he had similar roles at EQT Corp. and Dominion Resources.
He had served as chairman of the Marcellus Shale Coalition until this August, when he left Chesapeake Energy. He previously served as the coalition's vice chairman and as head of its legislative committee.
Mr. Spigelmyer is a Penn State University graduate who lives in Western Pennsylvania. While some members have suggested moving the coalition's headquarters to Harrisburg, he said there has been no discussion by the executive board to consider moving out of Robinson.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1969 and Twitter @msanserino.
First Published October 22, 2013 9:16 AM