Friday, March 22, 2013
Billionaire Harold Hamm, Could Be Headed For The Most Expensive Divorce Ever
The Hamms were married in April 1988 and have two adult children, Jane and Hilary. Harold Hamm has three children from a prior marriage that ended in divorce in 1987.
"I don't know of anything that's ever been this big," said Barbara Atwood, professor emeritus of family law at the University of Arizona. "There's just so much money involved."
After the pending divorce was confirmed by Hamm on Thursday, Continental shares fell by 2.9 percent to $86.17 in afternoon trading.
Hamm, the 13th child of Oklahoma sharecroppers, started his career at age 20, scrubbing scum out of oil barrels. A few years later, he drilled a 75-barrel-a-day gusher in his home state, helping pay for university classes in geology.
He founded Continental in 1967, two decades before he and the former Sue Ann Arnall were married. She is an economist and a lawyer.
Hamm's biggest breakthrough came in the 1990s, when he helped discover the Bakken field of North Dakota, the largest new U.S. oil prospect since the 1960s. The discovery helped Continental lead a resurgence in U.S. oil production, using the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technique pumps water laden with sand and chemicals underground to release previously unreachable oil reserves.
Today, the Bakken yields nearly 700,000 barrels a day, roughly 10 percent of American output. Continental controls more than 1 million acres in the formation, which stretches from North Dakota to Montana. The firm also owns oil and gas rights in several other states, including Oklahoma.
Continental has said the entire Bakken field - being developed by several companies - may contain 24 billion barrels of oil. That would be enough to meet U.S. oil demand for more than three years. Drilling by Continental alone added 649 million barrels to the company's proved oil reserves between 2008 and 2012.
The firm says it controls drilling leases to more oil-rich Bakken acres than any other company, helping to make Hamm the largest oil baron in the United States.
But his stake in Continental could change significantly as a result of a divorce settlement. The firm's massive growth occurred during the marriage. Its share price has surged nearly 500 percent in the five years since an initial public offering in 2007.
READ MORE AT: Business insider