Chesapeake says it's ready for recovery after big divestments

Company said it will look for more strategic options next year after beating its own sales goal.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Dec. 20, 2016 at 9:39 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Struggling shale company Chesapeake Energy said Tuesday it was anticipating a recovery next year after releasing a good portion of its non-core gas assets.

The company said it sold another portion of its holdings in the Haynesville shale basin in Louisiana to rival Covey Park energy LLC for about $465 million. Doug Lawler, the company's CEO, said total sales of Haynesville acreage so far have totaled almost $1 billion.

"We will continue to pursue opportunities to strengthen our balance sheet in 2017," he said in a statement.

The company, which has headquarters in Oklahoma, in early February retained the services of longtime counsel Kirkland & Ellis to help manage debt and strengthen its balance sheet, targeting a 57 percent reduction in spending from 2015.

In August, the company left the Barnett shale basin in Texas and earlier this month sold off 78,000 acres, of which more than half was considered core acreage, in the Haynesville shale area in Louisiana to an undisclosed private company for $450 million

"We exceeded our 2016 asset sales goal by approximately $500 million, bringing total gross proceeds from divestitures either signed or closed in the year to approximately $2.5 billion," Lawler said.

Lawyer said the divestments have so far been strategic, with the volume produced from the released assets keeping its production base in relative check.

Aubrey McClendon, who died in a March car crash, helped establish Chesapeake as a shale oil and natural gas pioneer before he was ousted through an investor rebellion in 2013. Under his tenure, the company became one of the largest natural gas producers in the United States.

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