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Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) said Monday that it would delay a $1 billion oil deal in the Eagle Ford oil shale in Texas, but that major asset sales in the Permian and in the Mississippi Lime basins remained on track to close in the third quarter.
Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon said that language the company included in a quarterly filing Friday warning of a delay in asset sales led many to worry that the Permian and Mississippi Lime sales "were somehow in jeopardy." But the language was referring to a Volumetric Production Payment deal in the Eagle Ford, in which the company would have sold some of the field's production in advance to investors, McClendon said. Chesapeake stock had tumbled 14% on Friday in the wake of the company's filing.
He said the company also has identified noncore assets it plans to sell in the second half of 2012 and continuing into 2013 to make sure it has enough money to meet its ambitious spending plans. McClendon said that the company chose to take a $3 billion unsecured loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Jefferies Group Inc. (JEF) instead, as it would provide more assurance to investors that it would be able its transition from being primarily a natural gas producer to one more focused on oil from a position of strength.
The Oklahoma City company, which in the past decade has grown into the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S. by throwing armies of land men into emerging oil and gas fields, also plans to concentrate on drilling the acreage it already holds, McClendon said. That's uncharted territory for the company, and for McClendon, who started out as a land man.
"Now we're transitioning to asset harvest," McClendon said.
-By Angel Gonzalez, Dow Jones Newswires; 713-547-9214;email@example.com