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Officials: Chesapeake Energy laying off about 400 workers, most in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds of workers for a local energy company learned that they were losing their jobs on Tuesday morning.

Officials with Chesapeake Energy told KFOR that the company was reducing its workforce by about 13 percent, with most of the layoffs occurring in Oklahoma City.

In all, that translates to about 400 workers being laid off, 330 of which are located in Oklahoma City.

On Tuesday morning Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler sent an email to employees, alerting them to the layoffs.

"By now you are aware we have undergone a reduction in Chesapeake’s workforce this morning. This action impacted approximately 13% of our employees across all functions of the company, primarily on our Oklahoma City campus. The decision to reduce headcount did not come easily for the leadership team. Dedicated, value-driven, hard-working people have been affected. You have my personal assurance that we are treating these employees fairly, respectfully, and with considerable effort to assist them with their personal and career transition.

Over the last couple years, we have divested approximately 25% of our wells, primarily from non-core areas, as a key part of our strategy to reduce debt, enhance margins, and work within our cash flow. While those divestitures resulted in headcount reductions in the field, transition services agreements with buyers of certain assets caused us to not make corresponding staffing changes in Oklahoma City. As those transition arrangements have now come to an end, and we continue to see increased efficiencies across the company, we needed to respond accordingly.

Chesapeake has proven its resilience and strength and we must continue to structure and position the company for greater success. As you have heard me say repeatedly, transforming a company requires discipline, tough decisions, great talent, and a shared vision and culture. I will be hosting a Town Hall in the coming weeks to discuss our progress and share my confidence in what we are accomplishing – working together as One Chesapeake.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our company," the email read.

Steve Agee, an economist with Oklahoma City University, says layoffs often happen during times of transition and consolidation.

"I think that`s what he referenced in that letter, that we`ve now come to a point where we`ve completed those transactions," said Agee. "We've done the due diligence. Those people are no longer necessary at Chesapeak.'

Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce says Oklahoma City is still a strong market.

"No, I don't think this is any indication of the business climate," said Williams. "It's not an indication of the economic climate because we`re continuing to see very strong job growth."

The last time the company announced major layoffs at the Oklahoma City campus was in 2015. At that time, 562 Oklahoma City employees were let go.

In 2013, the company laid off 640 workers at the Oklahoma City campus.