Chesapeake Energy lays off 800, including 40 in Barnett

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Chesapeake Energy said it laid off 800 employees on Tuesday, including about 40 in its Fort Worth-based Barnett Shale office, in a move that the company’s new CEO said completed a broad reorganization.

The Oklahoma City-based oil and gas producer said it will have about 11,000 employees after the layoffs, including 3,500 at its headquarters. About 640 of the layoffs were at Chesapeake’s sprawling hometown campus.

The latest round of job cuts brought total departures from the company to about 1,200 since the start of the year. Last month, it cut 86 positions, and several senior executives had left previously including Julie Wilson, its top officer in the Barnett.

Most of the cuts have come since Doug Lawler assumed the CEO’s post in June, following the resignation of co-founder Aubrey McClendon in April. Lawler soon launched a series of changes at the company aimed at bringing its debt and employment in line with its smaller operations.

Chesapeake did not say how many workers it has remaining in the Barnett Shale, where it has field offices in Fort Worth and Cleburne. As of the end of last year, it said it employed about 500 locally, down from a reported peak of about 1,200 in about 2008 before natural gas prices collapsed.

The company remains one of the largest natural gas producers in the Barnett Shale, generally running neck-and-neck with longtime leader Devon Energy. It is also the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas behind Irving-based Exxon Mobil, which owns XTO Energy of Fort Worth.

On Tuesday, Lawler said in a message to employees that the organizational restructuring he initiated “has concluded, and the initial transformation work is finished.” He said that by making those moves, “we have created a business built to deliver a sustainable and profitable future.”

Chesapeake shares (ticker: CHK) slipped less than 1 percent Tuesday on average trading, but are up about 20 percent since Lawler took over. The company is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings on Nov. 6.

In the year’s first six months, it reported just more than $1 billion in net income, largely on the strength of gains on asset sales. Last year Chesapeake lost $594 million.

Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 Twitter: @jimfuquay

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