Top company by employee – 26 – Chesapeake Energy – Oklahoma US
Industry: Manufacturing & Production – Coke, refined petroleum products and nuclear fuel
Ownership: Publicly quoted/held
Previous rank: 18
2011 revenue ($ millions): $11,635
What makes it so great?
Depressed natural-gas prices have sped up a downsizing and the sale of assets, but benefits remain generous, including more than $8 million in “safety bonuses" paid out in 2011 to more than 6,000 employees across the company for following safe work practices.
Oklahoma City, OK
|Traded as||NYSE: CHK (S&P 500 Component)|
|Industry||Oil and gas industry|
|Headquarters||Oklahoma City, United States|
|Key people||Robert Douglas Lawler, CEO
Douglas J. Jacobson, Executive Vice President
Domenic J. Dell’Osso, Jr., Executive Vice President and CFO
|Revenue||US$11.64 billion (FY 2011)|
|Operating income||US$3.08 billion (FY 2011′)/>|
|Net income||US$1.74 billion(FY 2011)|
|Total assets||US$41.8 billion (FY 2011)|
|Total equity||US$16.6 billion (FY 2011)|
Chesapeake Energy is an oil and natural gas company located in Oklahoma City, United States. Chesapeake Energy is the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States.  Its operations are focused on discovering and developing unconventional natural gas and oil fields onshore in the U.S. Chesapeake owns leading positions in the Eagle Ford, Utica, Granite Wash, Cleveland, Tonkawa, Mississippi Lime and Niobrara unconventional liquids plays and in the Marcellus, Haynesville/Bossier and Barnett unconventional natural gas shale plays. The company also owns substantial marketing and oilfield services businesses through its subsidiaries Chesapeake Energy Marketing, Inc. and Chesapeake Oilfield Services, L.L.C.
Founded in 1989 by retired CEO Aubrey McClendon and former President and COO Tom L. Ward, the company began with 10 employees and a $50,000 initial investment. McClendon named the company due to his love of the Chesapeake Bay region.Focusing on a strategy of drilling horizontal natural gas wells in unconventional reservoirs, the company built a sizable position in the Golden Trend and Sholem Alechem fields of South-central Oklahoma and in the Giddings field of Southeast Texas.
In 1993, the company completed its IPO at a split-adjusted price of $1.33 per share. In 1995, Chesapeake moved from the NASDAQ to the NYSE and changed its stock symbol to CHK.
After struggling with attempts to extend the Austin Chalk play into western and central Louisiana, and the coinciding price collapse of oil and natural gas in the late 1990s, the company modified its strategy to focus almost exclusively on natural gas production. This focus utilized the newest technologies to target a more diversified, longer reserve life and lower base risk asset base, and began to incorporate acquisitions into the company’s business plan.
During the period from 2003 to 2007, the company experienced rapid growth thanks to upward shifts in U.S. natural gas prices. During this time, the company expanded its land positions into unconventional reservoirs such as fractured carbonates, tight sandstone and shales, such as the Barnett, Fayetteville, and Marcellus shales. In 2006, Chesapeake was added to the S&P 500, replacing Dana Corporation.
In 2008, Chesapeake announced its discovery of the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and northwestern Louisiana. The Haynesville Shale is projected to become the nation’s largest natural gas producer by 2015 and, along with the Marcellus Shale, one of the five largest natural gas fields in the world over time.
On July 22, 2011, Chesapeake Energy agreed to a twelve-year naming rights partnership with the Oklahoma City Thunder to rename their arena Chesapeake Energy Arena. The agreement between Chesapeake and the Thunder has an initial annual cost of $3.0 million with a 3.0% annual escalation. Included in the agreement Chesapeake will have its branding throughout the building, prominent premium placement on the high-definition scoreboard and on new state-of-the-art interior and exterior digital signs.
In June 2012, the company appointed Archie W. Dunham as chairman, replacing Aubrey McClendon, who retained his position as CEO. Dunham, who retired as chairman ofConocoPhillips in 2004, was appointed in response to shareholder concerns about corporate governance issues under McClendon’s watch.
On April 1, 2013, Aubrey McClendon retired from the company and a three-month search for a replacement ended on May 20, 2013 with the announcement of Robert Douglas Lawler as McClendon’s successor. At the time of the announcement, Lawler was the senior vice president of international and deepwater operations at Anadarko Petroleum Corp, a rival U.S. corporation, and Chesapeake shares rose by four percent following the appointment. Steven Dixon, Chesapeake’s chief operating officer, acted as interim CEO during the replacement search period and, at the time of his appointment in late March, a three-person office of the chairman, consisting of Dixon, Chairmen Archie Dunham and Chief Financial Officer Domenic Dell’Osso, was formed.
Chesapeake owns leading positions in the Eagle Ford, Utica, Granite Wash, Cleveland, Tonkawa, Mississippi Lime, and Niobrara unconventional liquids plays, in addition to leading the Marcellus, Haynesville/Bossier, and Barnett unconventional natural gas shale plays.
Bradford County blowout[edit source]
On April 19, 2011, the company lost control of a natural gas well in the Marcellus shale that was being fracture stimulated, causing a large spill of salt water and hazardous chemicals from the well, such as 2-butoxyethanol and methanol, into the surrounding countryside. The cause of the accident was a failed seal assembly in the wellhead. By April 22, the leak had been stemmed. On May 2, the state of Maryland announced its intention to sue the company for violation Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act.
Chesapeake – Encana’s Alleged Collusion[edit source]
In mid-2012, the U.S. Department of Justice began an investigation into whether Encana, Canada’s largest natural gas company, “illegally colluded with Chesapeake Energy Corp to lower the price of Michigan exploration lands." Encana’s internal investigation determined in 2012 that it did not collude with Chesapeake. The public land auction took place in May 2010 in one of “America’s most promising oil and gas plays"  in Northern Michigan’s Middle Ordovician Collingwood shale and underlying Utica shale formation.
CEO borrowing practices[edit source]
On April 18, 2012, a Reuters report revealed that then Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon borrowed as much as US$1.1 billion against his stake in thousands of company wells. The loans, which had been undisclosed to shareholders, were used to fund McClendon’s operating costs for the Founders Well Participation Program, which offers him a chance to invest in a 2.5% interest in every well the company drills. McClendon in turn used the 2.5% stakes as collateral on those same loans. Analysts, academics and attorneys who reviewed the loan documents stated the structure raised the potential for conflicts of interest and raised questions on the corporate governance and business ethics of Chesapeake Energy’s senior management. The company disagreed that this is a conflict of interest or a violation of business ethics and issued a detailed statement. The same day that the Reuters article was published, Chesapeake Energy’s common stock fell by over five percent at close and fell more than ten percent intraday to its lowest level since July 2009.[dead link]
On April 26, 2012, Chesapeake Energy stated that its directors had never reviewed or approved McClendon’s mortgages on stakes in the wells and that it would be ending the Founders Well Participation Program. Additionally, the SEC announced that it would be opening an informal inquiry of McClendon’s borrowing practices. McClendon retired in April 2013.
Forbes magazine recognized Chesapeake as the “Best Managed Oil-and-Gas Company” in 2007 and it was included in Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List from 2008 through to 2013—in 2013 it ranked #26 and was the highest ranked company in Oklahoma. The company was named the 2009 Energy Producer at the Year by Platts Global Energy Awards and received the Industry Leadership Award for its role in championing natural gas as the fuel of the future. The company was also a finalist in the Deal of the Year, CEO of the Year, and Community Development Program of the Year categories and is one of only two companies to receive multiple awards. It was the second time in three years that Chesapeake had been named Platts’ Energy Producer of the Year.