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Actionable news in CHK: CHESAPEAKE ENERGY Corp,

For Chesapeake, Zero Means A Lot

Chesapeake Energy is bailing on the Barnett, where the shale boom was born. The price for those 215,000 acres in East Texas? Zero.

Well, not quite.

Yes, Chesapeake has agreed to "convey" -- as it put it so delicately in Wednesday evening's press release -- its Barnett assets to a buyer backed by private equity firm First Reserve, rather than sell them in the conventional sense.

But that doesn't mean it gets nothing out of it. Chesapeake's strategy these days centers on dealing with the hangover from years of overspending and taking on too many liabilities. In a recent report, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein estimated the average natural gas price needed for a Barnett well to...