With the aim of focusing more attention on the company’s extensive Appalachian Basin exploration and production holdings, Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Thursday that it plans to build a new eastern regional headquarters in Charleston, WV, in a semi-circular design “reflecting the rotation of a drillbit.”

Chesapeake, which first entered the region through its November 2005 $2.2 billion purchase of Columbia Natural Resources (CNR), said it is now the largest leasehold owner, the most active driller and the second largest natural gas producer in the Appalachian Basin. The company said its Appalachian Basin operations stretch from the Finger Lakes region of southern New York all the way south to central Alabama, with the heart of the company’s operations focused on West Virginia.

Chesapeake employs approximately 6,000 in 19 states in the U.S., and of those, 535 work in the Appalachian Basin and 220 work in Charleston. In the 21 months since Chesapeake acquired CNR (see Daily GPI, Nov. 17, 2005), the company has created more than 200 new Appalachian Basin jobs, of which 180 have been in West Virginia. More job creation is expected as the company continues to expand its Appalachian operations and prepares to move into its new headquarters in late 2009.

“I am committed to our Eastern Division Operations and commend Gov. [Joe] Manchin on his efforts to improve the business climate in the state of West Virginia,” said Chesapeake CEO Aubrey K. McClendon. “Further, I possess a deep and unwavering conviction that the Appalachian Basin is rich in undiscovered reserves of natural gas. We will work hard every day to discover and develop it from new formations and unexplored depths using both conventional and unconventional drilling and completion techniques.”

McClendon said the building will be certified “green” under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design principles. Elements of the green building certification include heating, cooling and lighting efficiency and storm water management.

Chesapeake Energy, which will retain its main headquarters in Oklahoma City, is the largest independent and third-largest overall producer of natural gas in the United States. The company’s operations are focused on exploratory and developmental drilling and corporate and property acquisitions in the Midcontinent, Fort Worth Barnett Shale, Fayetteville Shale, Permian Basin, Delaware Basin, South Texas, Texas Gulf Coast, Ark-La-Tex and Appalachian Basin regions.

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