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Shale Pioneer Aubrey McClendon Hires Chesapeake in Utica

Aubrey McClendon, the pioneering shale wildcatter who helped usher in the U.S. energy renaissance, has hired the company that fired him to drill wells for his newest natural gas venture.

A subsidiary of McClendon’s American Energy Partners LP is paying between $23,500 and $26,000 a day to rent seven rigs from Chesapeake Energy Corp., the Oklahoma City-based gas producer he co-founded a quarter century ago, according to a proxy filing today.

Chesapeake, which terminated McClendon last year amid a shareholder revolt, signed the six-month agreements in October, according to the filing. Chesapeake’s rigs are drilling for American Energy-Utica LLC in the Utica shale formation that stretches beneath much of Ohio.

McClendon, 54, was forced out of Chesapeake by a group of activist shareholders that included billionaire Carl Icahn and O. Mason Hawkins amid investor discontent over management missteps and controversy over McClendon’s use of personal stakes in company-operated wells to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars.

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