Harold Hamm Down $10 Billion As Oil Tanks

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The American entrepreneur Harold Hamm, best known for pioneering development of large shale oil resources in the Bakken formation, first had his wallet lightened by nearly $1 billion in a recent divorce settlement and now just several weeks later may have lost as much as $10 billion from falling oil prices and his failure to hedge risk exposure.

Harold Hamm, the CEO and founder of oil-company Continental Resources, Inc. (NYSE:CLR), has witnessed the value of his ownership stake fall with the price of oil, slashed in half since late August to just over a $10 billion valuation on Friday, as CNBC first reported.

Harold Hamm

Harold Hamm’s prediction for oil prices

As Jim Cramer notes, Harold Hamm predicted the end of the slide in the price of oil in early November when the price of oil was trading near $85 per barrel. The price of oil since dropped to near $66, then rebounded today to trade near $69 per barrel in late afternoon trading.  “Taking off his hedges is something that was almost suicidal,” Cramer noted today.

The slide in oil – and Continental Resources, Inc. (NYSE:CLR) stock price – is a concern to ex-wife, Sue Ann. As part of the divorce settlement, the judge placed a lien on 20 million shares in Continental stock. Since then the stock value has almost halved, making Sue Ann’s claim weaker. Sue Ann’s attorney said she could appeal for more money, and likely more collateral as well. At the time of the settlement, Sue Ann’s divorce attorney, Seymour Reisman, was quoted as saying in a Forbes report his client got shafted in this judgement: “Typically a wife of 26 years should expect to receive a minimum of 25-30% of the marital assets.” With this settlement she received near 7 percent.

Harold Hamm concerned about returning to poverty

After starting life in poverty, Harold Hamm, who was one of 13 children born to Oklahoma sharecroppers, says he would never retire because he is always concerned about returning to poverty.  “I tried retirement once, but lasted six months because I feared, and I still do, that I’ll fall back to that level of poverty. You really can’t escape it,” he was quoted as saying.

Harold Hamm’s first job in high school was pumping gas, which led him to cleaning oil tanks. With a $1,000 loan he founded a drilling company, Continental, discovering the rich Cedar Hills Field in North Dakota in 1995. He went on to become one of the country’s largest onshore oil companies and personally became ranked by Forbes as the 30th richest person in the U.S. in 2012.

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