Chesapeake On the Hunt for Utica Shale Partners

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Nov. 30, 2011

Chesapeake expects to find partners for the natural gas section of its Ohio's Utica Shale once commodity prices recover, the company's top executive said Wednesday.

The energy firm expects to name its first partner in the region by the end of the year.

"When gas prices recover, we will do a JV in the gas side of the Utica," Chesapeake Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon told reporters at the Jefferies 2011 Global Energy Conference in Houston.

McClendon said the company will disclose by year-end the name of an "international company" that earlier this month signed a letter of intent to pay $2.14 million for a 25% minority stake in 650,000 acres of the company's Utica Shale in eastern Ohio. The deal focused on the oil and liquids production of the Utica, the company said.

McClendon declined to give more details about the possible partner, but said it was not India's Reliance Industries, which some analysts speculated was the unnamed partner.

The opportunity to acquire large pieces of land with abundant shale oil and gas resources will likely come to an end next year, as most of the most attractive areas have been already taken by oil and gas producers, McClendon said. Chesapeake will likely stop focusing on large land acquisitions and concentrate on developing its assets by increasing drilling, he said.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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