Chesapeake Energy Corp. is trimming the number of employees at its offices in North Texas as low natural gas prices have forced the company to curtail its operations in the gas-rich Barnett Shale.
Chesapeake currently has only two drilling rigs in the Barnett, so the company intends to cut loose about 70 employees at its offices in Fort Worth and Cleburne. That represents about 8 percent of its work force in North Texas.
“The colleagues we’re releasing are wonderful people, passionate about their work and true assets to our community,” Julie Wilson, Chesapeake’s vice president of urban planning, wrote in an email to employees. “I hope you’ll help us find new career opportunities for them.”
Chesapeake is eliminating positions in several departments that are most directly impacted by the company’s reduced drilling and leasing operations in the area. It had 44 active rigs in the Barnett as recently as 2008, but low gas prices have spurred the company to shift its focus to oil and liquids production.
Wilson said Chesapeake already has transferred employees to more prolific shale plays or its home base in Oklahoma City.
“Although in no way do I want to trivialize our local staff reductions, I feel compelled to note that our company remains in a strong growth mode. We continue to add staff at our headquarters in Oklahoma City and in many of our field offices as the company continues to drill approximately 1,650 new wells this year to develop our enormous reserves of domestic oil, natural gas, and liquids.”
Wilson also noted employees of pipeline subsidiary Chesapeake Midstream Partners will move into new offices once Chesapeake completes the sale of those assets to Global Infrastructure Partners later this year.
She said that does not mean the company will sell downtown Fort Worth’s Chesapeake Plaza, although it will remain open to offers.
Wilson said Chesapeake is more interested in leasing space in the building.