November 25, 2008, AP: Chesapeake closes $3.37 billion Marcellus sale

Chesapeake closes $3.37 billion Marcellus sale

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Chesapeake Energy has closed a $3.37 billion sale on rights to the massive Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits in Appalachian region, the company said Tuesday.

The nation's largest natural gas producer announced two weeks ago it would sell a 32.5 percent interest to Norwegian energy company Statoil Hydro, while maintaining a working interest of 67.5 percent.

While Chesapeake has recently been forced to tamp down takeover rumors as energy prices spiral downward, the Statoil deal may pave the way for the company to expand overseas, where the advanced drilling techniques used in the U.S. are not as developed.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. said it will "jointly explore unconventional natural gas opportunities worldwide" with Statoil.

Chesapeake received $1.25 billion in cash at the closing, giving it access to much needed cash amid a severe global credit crisis, and will get a further $2.125 billion between 2009 and 2012 through an expenditure agreement.

"We are honored to partner with one of the leading international oil and gas companies and are excited about the opportunities to jointly export our world class unconventional natural gas technology for further long-term growth," said Chesapeake Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon.

McClendon, listed by Forbes as the 134th richest person in the U.S., was forced last month to sell nearly all of the shares he had amassed in Chesapeake to meet margin loan calls.

The $570 million firesale was described by McClendon as a personal matter and he has vowed to rebuild his stake.

Chesapeake shares have tumble nearly 64 percent since late August have been extraordinarily volatile over the past month.

Shares jumped fell a penny to $18.25 Tuesday. Statoil's American depository receipts rose 21 cents to $16.44.

(This version CORRECTS 5th graf '2012' not '2112")

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