Chesapeake Drops After Production Cut

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) announced Monday that it will cut approximately 7% of its total oil and gas production in an effort to build support for weak natural gas prices.

In a press release, Chesapeake said it has "curtailed approximately 200 million cubic feet per day of gross natural gas and approximately 6,000 barrels per day of gross oil production." The cuts will extend at least through March, Chesapeake said.

Shares of Chesapeake were recently falling 10.5% at $14 a share, down nearly 80% from its share-price last July.

Chesapeake also said that it will give its joint-venture partner Plains Exploration & Production ( PXP) a one-time option to skip an $800 million payment related to a cooperative drilling arrangement in the Haynesville Shale in Arkansas.

"We have elected to temporarily curtail approximately 7% of our gross natural gas and oil production in order to protect shareholder and royalty interest owner value during this time of extraordinarily low prices, especially for Mid-Continent natural gas," CEO Aubrey McClendon said in a prepared statement.

Some analysts have blamed low natural gas prices on companies like Chesapeake. Chesapeake ramped up its production rates when commodity prices were high in 2007 and 2008. The move ultimately raised U.S. supplies of natural gas to near-record levels.

In turn, higher inventories weighed heavily on natural gas prices. Natural gas is currently trading near $4 per million British thermal units, roughly 70% lower than last summer's level.

Elsewhere in the space, ConocoPhillips ( COP) was falling 5% at $35.47 a share, Chevron ( CVX) was down 4.5% at $58.02 a share, and Exxon Mobil ( XOM) was 2.8% lower at $66.01 a share.

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