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Via Columbus Business Journal

Aubrey McClendon plans to spend $100 million in … Australia?

Oil and gas maven Aubrey McClendon has spent big on shale plays across the U.S., especially in Ohio. But now McClendon, founder of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK), is shifting his gaze down under.

McClendon’s new company, American Energy Partners LP, has signed a non-binding letter of intent with a Brisbane, Australia, company called Armour Energy Ltd., the Aussie company said Thursday. The five-year, $100 million agreement gives McClendon a 75 percent stake in 21.5 million acres in northern Australia’s McArthur Basin, and marks the first time McClendon will work overseas.

American Energy also will pay up to $18 million in closing bonuses.

McClendon’s U.S. shale companies have always spent big, whether at Chesapeake or American Energy, which he founded last summer. But recent big spending came shortly before commodity prices fell and drilling rig activity dwindled. This summer the company sold rights to more than 35,000 acres in eastern Ohio to another big Appalachian driller.

Armour’s executive chairman said the letter of intent confirms the company’s view that the McArthur Basin is “one of the world’s great opportunities.” Nick Mather said American Energy’s team built Chesapeake into a household name in America, “and I fully expect AEP to apply the same effort to the McArthur and deliver the technical outcomes for which they are renowned.”