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Shale pioneer hires Chesapeake for drilling job

| Friday, April 18, 2014, 9:27 p.m.

Aubrey McClendon, the pioneering shale wildcatter who helped usher in America's energy renaissance, has hired the company that fired him to drill wells for his latest 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.

Chesapeake, which terminated McClendon last year amid a shareholder revolt, signed the six-month deal 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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