The move toward more profitable oil and natural gas liquids instead of lower-margin dry natural gas, combined with ongoing efforts to cut costs, has led Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. to step up its efforts to sell more than two dozen Fort Worth area properties.
Chesapeake spokeswoman Julie Wilson confirmed Monday that the company is considering selling the company's 20-story regional headquarters in Fort Worth.
“We've been saying for quite a while that we are open to leasing out space or selling the building if we have an appropriate offer,” said Wilson, vice president of corporate development for Chesapeake's Texas operations. “To my knowledge we have not formally listed it for sale, but we have for quite some time said we are amenable to leasing out space or taking offers that come in.”
Chesapeake paid $104 million in 2008 to buy the building from retailer Pier 1, according to county records. The Tarrant County assessor values the property at $62 million, down from $72 million in 2009.
Selling the Fort Worth properties could remove millions of dollars of Chesapeake's operating costs and funnel more than $100 million to the company.
But it would have little effect on Chesapeake's broader effort to sell $13 billion to $14 billion this year and a total of $17 billion to $19 billion by the end of 2013 to cut costs and pay down debt, industry analyst Fadel Gheit said.
“Chesapeake's oil and gas assets are much more valuable and important than their real estate assets,” said Gheit, an analyst with Oppenheimer in New York. “These are very small numbers compared to their $15 billion asset sales program. Real estate makes headlines, but has little impact on the company.”
Chesapeake announced in June that would cut its staff in Fort Worth and Cleborn by about 70 employees, or about 8 percent. The company since has sold its midstream business, which represented about 200 North Texas jobs.
Chesapeake now has about 500 employees in the area, including about 100 in the regional headquarters, Wilson said.
“We are through with our transitions here,” she said. “We will continue to be a dynamic company and shift human resources and assets where they need to be shifted, but we're pretty stable in the Barnett here.”