There are more than airplanes taking off these days at Dallas/Fort Worth's airport. The facility sits atop the Fort Worth Barnett Shale geologic structure, which contains big natural gas reserves. So a Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) program to drill hundreds of wells on and near the facility in the next several years is also very much in the ascendancy.
That topic, along with others relevant to the company's rapid rise, were discussed Friday at Chesapeake's 15th annual meeting. Indeed, because of Barnett's increasing importance to Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake -- the company now has 200,000 net leasehold acres in play -- this annual meeting became the first to be conducted in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Unlike ExxonMobil's (NYSE: XOM ) annual meeting, which was held the prior week and was rife with contentious employee-delivered motions, the Chesapeake session, presided over by the company's co-founder and CEO, Aubrey McClendon, was the essence of civility. The only modestly discordant note was the hope expressed by a steelworkers' union representative that now-protracted talks between the company and the union will soon result in a contract covering the approximately 200 steelworkers members in the company's employ.
But the Barnett story was the star of the show. The structure and the gas it has entrapped clearly aren't new to Chesapeake: The company spent more than $400 million to drill nearly 250 wells in three of the counties that make up the play. More than a quarter of the company's drilling budget this year is expected to be directed to further evaluating its acreage in the area.
McClendon also noted that, in its relatively brief history, Chesapeake has become the nation's sixth-largest U.S. natural gas producer, sitting directly ahead of ExxonMobil and behind such big operators as ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP ) , Anadarko (NYSE: APC ) , BP (NYSE: BP ) , and Chevron (NYSE: CVX ) . He also pointed out that it is 325th in revenue generation on Fortune magazine's list of the nation's 500 largest industrial companies, and is 214th in market value and 96th in profit generation.
Perhaps the most significant metric discussed was McClendon's forecast that the company will continue to generate 25% annual growth in its net asset value. With that prediction in mind, I'll remain focused on Chesapeake's rapid growth and its Fort Worth-area airport adventures. I encourage energy-investing Fools to do the same.
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