THE crew of workers fought off the blistering Louisiana sun, jerking their wrenches to tighten the fat hoses that would connect their cement trucks to the Chesapeake Energy drill rig — one of the last two rigs the company is still using to drill for natural gas here in the Haynesville Shale.
At its peak, Chesapeake ran 38 rigs in the region. All told, it has sunk more than 1,200 wells into the Haynesville, a gas-rich vein of dense rock that straddles Louisiana and Texas. Fed by a gold-rush mentality and easy money from Wall Street, Chesapeake and its competitors have done the same in other shale fields from Oklahoma to Pennsylvania.
For most of the country, the result has been cheaper energy. The nation is awash in so much natural gas that electric utilities, which burn the fuel in many generating plants, have curbed rate increases and switched more capacity to gas from coal, a dirtier fossil fuel.