SandRidge gives CEO wide scope to cut his own land deals

NEW YORK, Wed Feb 6, 2013 — SandRidge Energy Corp. is giving its chief executive wide latitude to profit from personal oil-and-gas deals in ways that pose potential conflicts of interest with the company, according to a review of employment contracts and recent transactions.

SandRidge has lifted most restrictions on CEO Tom Ward’s ability to sell mineral rights or drill wells, through little-noticed changes to his employment agreement in 2011.

Before the changes, Ward was permitted to receive royalties from SandRidge, or jointly own wells with it, on land he had owned before joining the company in 2006. The 2011 agreement allows him to do deals with SandRidge competitors in the oil and gas business, and to do business with SandRidge on any land that he owns or acquires.

Ward started the independent energy producer in 2006 after leaving Chesapeake Energy Corp, which he co-founded with Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon. At the two companies, both based in Oklahoma City, the CEOs have entwined their own finances with those of the publicly traded corporations they run. Last week, McClendon announced his resignation from Chesapeake after a year marked by a cash crunch and civil and criminal probes into his personal finances and other matters.