Cramer addressed what it would mean for America if our continent was energy-independent. He said making that move would give our country "a clean sheet of paper" on which to rewrite our foreign policy, our environmental policies and our economic well being. The Department of Defense, he noted, is the largest user of oil in our country, but is only just now beginning to consider converting from oil to natural gas. Cramer then got a firsthand look at Chesapeake's drilling rig, which costs nearly $20 million and was drilling a new well 8,000 feet down and one mile horizontally in order to unlock another sliver of the Utica gas below. McClendon said that Chesapeake has spent over $2 billion to acquire drilling rights on 1.3 million acres of Utica and nearly all of that money has gone into land owners' pockets and into the local economies. Finally, when asked about the negative press surrounding hydraulic fracturing, McClendon said Chesapeake has been "fracking" since 1949 and has never had an environmental issue. He reminded viewers that America is the number one producer of natural gas in the world and does it better than anyone else.
In the Pipeline
In his next "Executive Decision" segment, Cramer sat down with Greg Ebel, president and CEO of Spectra Energy ( SE), a pipeline operator that currently ships 12% to 15% of all the natural gas produced in the Utica shale region. Shares of Spectra currently yield 3.7%. Ebel said that as a pipeline company, Spectra buys a lot of pipe, and the best pipes in the world are those that are American-made. On Spectra's new pipeline from Utica all the way into New York City, Ebel said that last 15 miles of that pipeline will cost nearly $1.2 billion to build, but will save New Yorkers $400 million a year in energy savings by having more affordable natural gas more readily available to them. One of his company's biggest hurdles, noted Ebel, is regulatory issues. He said that it can take up to four years to get the needed approvals to build a pipeline, despite the industry having a great track record for safety. But even with those hurdles, Ebel is hoping to see up to 50,000 homes a year convert to natural gas from oil as the price differential between oil and gas grows.