Chesapeake Energy Corp. on Tuesday laid off about 800 employees nationwide, including about 640 in Oklahoma City, ending months of uncertainty at the Oklahoma City natural gas and oil company.
“It has been a very difficult day. This has affected a significant number of Chesapeake employees,” Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler told The Oklahoman Tuesday. “It's been very difficult for us and for all those involved. It also is an essential step in making Chesapeake a competitive, productive, strong and vibrant company for decades to come.”
Tuesday's announcement ends the monthslong changes that have led about 1,200 people to leave the company since the first of the year.
“The principle reason I came to Chesapeake was because of my confidence in the assets and my confidence in the people. I see great value in both,” Lawler said. “I also see great opportunity for a company that has been through a difficult transition, but has all the right resources essential to be an outstanding E&P (exploration and production) company.”
Chesapeake executives previously had said the internal evaluation could run through Nov. 1.
“Over the past several months, we've been going through a transformation process that has included evaluating all aspects of our business,” Lawler said. “That transformational process has concluded.”
Lawler spent most of the day Tuesday speaking with Chesapeake employees. He also contacted Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett.
“I mainly wanted to highlight to them that it has been a difficult day for us, but that our commitment to the state and city is as strong as ever,” Lawler said.
Chesapeake executives tightened their focus on reducing costs and increasing profits last year after a shareholder revolt forced the company to replace most of its directors.
After Tuesday's cuts, Chesapeake has about 11,000 employees nationwide, including about 6,000 in Oklahoma — 3,500 at its Oklahoma City headquarters.
“We're looking forward to building the company going forward,” Lawler said. “A lot of the uncertainty is over now. We have the right strategy and the right values in place. We're looking forward to a bright future for the company.”