Energy Highlights: Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM)’s Libya Operations, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK)’s Lead, SandRidge Energy Inc. (SD)’s Traders

Editor’s Note: Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE:SD), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)

Exxon to cut back Libya presence as security crumbles (Reuters)
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly-traded energy company, said on Tuesday it would cut back its staff and operations in Libya as growing instability no longer justified a major presence. While it is not a major investor in Libya’s oil and gas sector, Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM)’s move highlights growing concern among international oil companies that the returns on offer in Libya may not justify the security and political risks that have grown since the 2011 uprisings that swept the Middle East. “The security and business situation means we can no longer justify maintaining a large office presence in Libya,” ExxonMobil spokesman Patrick McGinn told Reuters.

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM

Chesapeake Energy leads energy stocks higher (MarketWatch)
Energy stocks rose on Tuesday as U.S. equities got a boost from news Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) raised its dividend by more than 20% and set a share buyback plan. The S&P 500 Index closed at six-week highs. Investors also awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve two-day policy meeting that started on Tuesday. A policy announcement is scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern. A press conference with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will follow. Natural-gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) led energy stocks in the S&P, up 2.4%. Chesapeake Chief Executive Doug Lawler sent a memo to employees Tuesday alluding to more layoffs at the natural-gas producer.

Traders Purchase High Volume of Put Options on SandRidge Energy (SD) (WKRB News)
Shares of SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE:SD) saw unusually large options trading on Tuesday. Stock traders purchased 7,733 put options on the stock, American Banking and Market News reports. This represents an increase of approximately 361% compared to the average daily volume of 1,677 put options. Several analysts have recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Zacks downgraded shares of SandRidge Energy from an “outperform” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research note to investors on Wednesday, August 7th. They now have a $6.30 price target on the stock. Separately, analysts at Raymond James downgraded shares of SandRidge Energy Inc. (NYSE:SD) to a “market perform” rating in a research note to investors on Monday, July 29th.

Exxon spill case still unresolved (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
During the chaos of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, one oil industry representative famously predicted that “lawyers yet to be born will work on this spill.” Today, as we approach the 25-year anniversary of the spill, the legal case remains unresolved. The Exxon Valdez case is now the longest-lasting environmental litigation in history. Some 32,000 private plaintiffs went to trial in 1994, proved Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) guilty of gross negligence, and won $287 million in actual damages and a $5 billion punitive verdict. But after 14 years of appeals, in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court (invoking a peculiar 1818 maritime ruling) reduced the punitive judgment to only $507 million, with the appeals court adding another $470 million in interest.

Layoffs at Chesapeake not over yet (
Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) plans to continue layoffs for about another six weeks, according to an internal email the company’s chief executive sent to employees on Tuesday. “While Chesapeake is a strong and resilient organization that reflects our incredibly talented employees, we must adapt our organizational structure to become a sustainable, profitable company in the energy sector. Future staffing adjustments will likely be necessary to properly align resources and improve our overall operating and competitive performance,” said Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK)’s CEO Doug Lawler in the email, a copy of which was obtained by CNBC.

Exxon Mobil Goes Greener With New Headquarters (Urban Land)
The new Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) headquarters, rising on 385 acres (156 ha) north of downtown Houston, is one of the largest construction projects in the United States. The corporate campus will be composed of 20 low-rise buildings arranged around landscaped paths and quadrangles. It will consolidate in one place the energy company’s offices currently located in Houston, Fairfax County, Virginia, and other locations to accommodate up to 10,000 employees who will begin occupying the campus early next year.

Recommended Reading:

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK), CONSOL Energy Inc. (CNX): Natural Gas Is Poised to Displace King Coal

Under Construction: Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK)’s Improving Health

Devon Energy Corp (DVN), Continental Resources, Inc. (CLR): Will SandRidge Energy Inc. (SD) Investors Enjoy a Significant Future Pay Day?