Chesapeake Energy reportedly laying off hundreds of employees

State of the Nation

Source: MSN Money

Local news outlets in Oklahoma are reporting that Chesapeake Energy has announced it will lay off hundreds of employees as the debt-burdened natural gas driller continues to overhaul its business.

In a letter to employees, Chesapeake said it will let go about 13 percent of its workforce. The Oklahoma City company employed 3,247 people as of September, which suggests it will trim back about 400 positions.

The layoffs will occur primarily at Chesapeake’s Oklahoma City campus.

Chesapeake did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation by phone and email.

Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler said the job cuts were the result of asset sales that the company has made in recent years. He explained that Chesapeake did not initially cut staff after selling the assets because it had entered into transition arrangements with buyers, which required workers to remain in their positions.

However, with those arrangements coming to an end, Chesapeake needed to “respond accordingly,” Lawler said.

“The decision to reduce headcount did not come easily for the leadership team. Dedicated, value-driven, hard-working people have been affected,” he said in a letter obtained by KWTV in Oklahoma City and posted to Twitter.

Chesapeake rose to prominence under founders and shale drilling pioneers Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward, who borrowed heavily to buy vast swaths of land to produce natural gas.

The company has sold off about 25 percent of its wells in recent years in order to shrink its debt load, improve profit margins and operate its business within the confines of its cash flow, Lawler noted in his letter.

Shares of Chesapeake were last down 5.4 percent on Tuesday. The stock has fallen about 43 percent over the last year.

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