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Oklahoma based Chesapeake Energy Corporation will sell $865 million worth of Pennsylvania pipelines to a spun-off subsidiary as part of the oil and gas explorer's broader push to trim debt and close a projected funding gap. Chesapeake formed Chesapeake Midstream, a master limited partnership, or MLP, with private investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners. Shares were sold publicly last year with Chesapeake retaining about a 35% stake. Chesapeake Midstream Partners LP will gain a 47% interest in about 200 miles of pipelines and other gas-gathering assets in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation.

Chesapeake, the second largest natural gas producer in the U.S., has become the oil patch's predominant deal maker, relying increasingly on asset sales and partnerships to fund drilling and acquisitions of new production fields. The company says it plans to raise $7 billion in 2012 through joint ventures in oil and gas fields, divesting its stakes in oil producer Chaparral Energy Inc. and oilfield service company FTS International Inc., and selling public shares of its own oilfield service company. By comparison, it expects operating cash flow to amount to $6 billion next year.
Wednesday's deal is Chesapeake's second with its spin-off. A year ago it sold its network of Louisiana pipelines for $500 million. Acquiring the Pennsylvania assets, which handle more than a billion cubic feet of gas per day, will make Chesapeake Midstream the largest gathering and processing master limited partnership as measured by throughput volume. (WSJ, 12/29/2011)