UPDATE 1-Chesapeake Energy reports quarterly loss on lower natgas prices

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Aug 1 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corp posted a quarterly loss on Wednesday as a drop in natural gas prices and higher expenses ate into the company's margins.

Shares of the company, which reported an 18.2 percent rise in total operating expenses, were down 4.5 percent at $4.51 in premarket trading.

The company sold natural gas, its prime revenue generator, at an average sales price of $2.56 per thousand cubic feet (mcf), down from $2.88 per mcf a year ago.

Natural gas prices have fallen about 4 percent this quarter from year-ago levels, as production has reached a record high.

Chesapeake's average daily production rose 0.5 percent to 530,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d), while average sales price rose 13.8 percent to $25.56 per barrel of oil equivalent per day.

Chesapeake has cut jobs in the past and tried containing costs as it seeks to repair its balance sheet, loaded down with $9.83 billion in debt. Last week, the company said it plans to sell its Ohio natural gas acreage to reduce debts and looks to shift focus to oil from gas.

The Oklahoma-based company said net loss available to shareholders was $40 million, or 4 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with a profit of $470 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 15 cents per share in-line with analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)