HOUSTON, July 23 Chesapeake Energy Corp,
a U.S. oil and gas company facing funding shortfalls this year
and next, is selling 3,300 acres (1,335 hectares) in the Barnett
Shale in north Texas as part of its effort to limit exposure to
low-priced natural gas.
Chesapeake, under pressure from big shareholders to cut
costs due to its heavy spending, depressed gas prices and a big
debt load, has already laid off 8 percent of its workforce in
the Barnett Shale. The company also previously said it would
entertain offers for its Fort Worth office tower.
The company's real estate arm, Chesapeake Land Development,
aims to raise nearly $100 million from the sales of its Barnett
Shale land parcels, according to the unit's website.
A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.
The sales mark a retreat for the company that helped to
pioneer the concept of urban drilling.
When natural gas traded at around $13 per million British
thermal units in 2008, Chesapeake drilled wells at a Fort Worth
country club, in north Texas neighborhoods and even at the
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
This year, natural gas prices fell to their lowest level in
a decade, so the company said it was devoting 85 percent of its
budget toward drilling for oil.
To help fill a funding gap of around $17 billion for this
year and next, Chesapeake has said it would sell up to $14
billion in assets this year. So far, the company has announced
$6.6 billion in sales.
Shares of Chesapeake rose 1.3 percent to $17.43 in afternoon
New York Stock Exchange trading.