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Layoffs at Chesapeake Energy rattle employees

Chesapeake Energy
Source: Chesapeake Energy
Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy has been laying off employees as it moves ahead with a company-wide reorganization.

"The senior leadership team and I are actively working to align our organizational structure with Chesapeake's new strategies of financial discipline and profitable and efficient growth from captured resources," chief executive Doug Lawler wrote Tuesday in an email to employees that CNBC.com obtained.

Chesapeake released this statement:

"Chesapeake is transitioning key leadership positions and making adjustments to its organization to properly align resources, reduce expenses, and improve its operating and competitive performance. The company's focus remains on financial discipline and profitable and efficient growth from captured resources. We look forward to realizing Chesapeake's full potential for our shareholders and employees."

The Oklahoma City television station K-FOR-TV reports that sources say as many as 2,000 jobs may be cut. Chesapeake has about 12,000 employees.

This week's layoffs occurred in the creative department and corporate development, according to a person at the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person also said that there were layoffs in the government relations department two weeks ago.

Lawler's email hinted that there may be more layoffs to come.

"Additional organizational changes are anticipated in the coming weeks. During this time, it is imperative that each of us maintain our focus on safety and execute our day-to-day duties in an operationally prudent manner. We thank you for your patience and dedication as we work together to transform our company," Lawler wrote. Chesapeake shares are up by more than 61 percent year-to-date.

Employees have been rattled by the layoffs.

"Morale is low and as a result productivity is low," one person at the company said. "A lot of people wish they would just rip off the band aid."

Perks at the company are being cut back. The community garden has been shut down—and the gardeners have been let go. The monthly concerts on the company campus are no longer happening. The annual Halloween party, which was a fundraiser for United Way, is also rumored to be canceled, according to a person at the company.

(Read more: What Chesapeake's tax bill tells us about its profits)

Last year, Chesapeake came under scrutiny after Reuters reported that CEO Aubrey McClendon had borrowed as much as $1.1 billion from other companies over a three-year period, using his stake in the company's oil and natural gas wells as collateral. He resigned earlier this year, citing "philosophical differences" with the board.

—By CNBC's John Carney and Cadie Thompson. Follow John on Twitter @Carney and Cadie @CadieThompson.

Correction:
This story has been updated to correctly state that Reuters reported former Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon borrowed as much as $1.1 billion from other companies using his stake in the company's wells as collateral – the loans did not come from Chesapeake.

Wall Street