Chesapeake Energy’s Marcellus Shale Strategy Changes – 20% of Their Leases Now For Sale

Seems there’s been a strategy change at Chesapeake Energy with respect to Marcellus Shale drilling. Chesapeake is the largest player in the Marcellus with some 1.5 million net acres under lease. As recently as last week (see this MDN story) they boasted of having 24 drilling rigs (expanding this year to 31) in operation, and plans to drill 170 Marcellus shale gas wells in 2010. But that was last week. This week they’re looking to sell off 20 percent of their Marcellus leases to help raise $5 billion to pay down debt and invest in other ventures. No, they certainly aren’t abandoning the Marcellus—not by a long shot. But it is quite a strategy shift from upper management. From their recent press release:

Chesapeake Energy Corporation today announced a strategic and financial plan designed to increase shareholder value, reduce debt and ultimately achieve an investment grade rating for the company’s debt securities. Through a series of transactions over the next 24 months, including the preferred stock placement announced today, the company is planning to raise up to $5.0 billion in order to repay up to $3.5 billion of senior indebtedness and increase its investment in liquids-rich plays by up to $1.5 billion. Chesapeake is in various stages of implementing its strategic and financial plan, several steps of which are outlined below.

The company is planning to sell up to a 20% equity interest in its subsidiary, Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., which includes its Marcellus Shale operations, to private and/or public investors within the next 3-12 months. Chesapeake is one of the largest producers, the largest leasehold owner with 1.5 million net acres and the most active driller with 24 operated rigs in the Marcellus Shale play.*

*Chesapeake Press Release (May 10) – Chesapeake Energy Corporation Announces Strategic and Financial Plan to Increase Shareholder Value and Reduce Debt

Mesa Energy is Using Hydraulic Fracturing on Two Wells in Western New York – Right Now

From the “continues to be interesting” department: Mesa Energy, new owner of the Java Field in Western New York State, has started hydraulic fracturing of two Marcellus Shale wells in the Java Field. Yes, you read that right. Fracking is happening NOW. In New York State. The catch? They’re both vertical wells. Since fracking horizontally drilled wells is still on hold in New York, Mesa can’t drill horizontally. But they have received permission from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to frack vertically on two of their wells—and they are doing it.

Mesa press release issued today:

DALLAS—Mesa Energy Holdings, Inc. (the “Company”), an exploration stage oil and gas exploration and production company with a focus on the Marcellus Shale in western New York, provides an update on its re-completion of the Reisdorf Unit #1 well in its Java Field prospect located in Wyoming County, New York.

The Reisdorf Unit #1 in the northern portion of the Java Field has been successfully re-completed and fracked in the Marcellus Shale. The well was perforated at a depth of 1,368’ to 1,389’ and fracked with 74,000 gallons of slick water and 105,000 lbs. of proppant (sand) combined with Nitrogen assist. Flow-back of the frac water is continuing according to plan. Although there is not yet sufficient data to accurately quantify the gas flow, there is clear indication of strong gas presence in the Marcellus zone. Planning for the re-completion and fracking of the Ludwig #1 is underway.

“We are very encouraged by the early data and believe that the performance of the well to date clearly supports our ongoing efforts in the Marcellus Shale,” said Randy M. Griffin, CEO of Mesa Energy Holdings, Inc. “We will continue to provide updates as new information warrants.”*

*Mesa Press Release/Business Wire (May 12) – Mesa Energy Holdings, Inc. Provides Reisdorf Unit #1 Update