Chesapeake Energy Laid off workers, oil price as main reason

By Money Times

Sep 30, 2015 10:29 PM EDT

Oklahoma-based energy company, Chesapeake Energy Corp said it had laid off about 15 percent of its employees and citing the low oil price and gas as the main reason for the move. The second-largest natural gas company in the U.S had laid off 740 workers on Tuesday so far.

The 4,000 strong workforce company had released a memo to all employee explaining that the move was done to sustain company's operation as reported by CNBC. Most of the workers fired are from the Oklahoma offices according to The Wall Street Journal while another 180 workers are from another plant.

Laying off workers is part of a strategy by Chesapeake to cut its operational cost to enable the company to stay competitive. However, workers can expect up to 52 weeks of pay based on and job placement as the company will try its best to accommodate everyone that is affected. Because of this move, Chesapeake is required to pay a one-time charge of $55 million to employer payroll taxes in the next quarter according to CNN Money.

Besides cutting the operational cost, Chesapeake whose share value had lost more than 65 percent this year announced a dividend cut for investors. The announcement causing its share to continue traded at a lower value. Based on the SIG Exploration and Production Index, the company's performance had dropped 35 percent as lots of operation need to be put on hold including new exploration.

Chesapeake also announced that it will cut down capital spending by 40 percent for this year alone. This comes as the company reported a second-quarter loss of $4.02 billion on some properties. The company had also been actively selling its properties even to the rival company such as Southwestern Energy. The deal with Southwestern was done by Robert Lawler, the newly appointed CEO saw the company selling $5 billion worth of assets.

Previous CEO, Aubrey McClendon avoid asset selling but relies on borrowing instead. The move caused the company to accumulate more than $16 billion in debt. Currently, after the asset selling, Chesapeake is valued less than $5 billion in market capitalization.

The oil price has dropped more than 60 percent in less than a year after it highest price in 2014. The low prices had forced lots of companies related to the industry to lay off workers and it was reported that around 86,000 workers are affected by the move. Besides Chesapeake, other energy companies like Schlumberger and Baker Hughes has laid off workers since early this year. 

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