Chesapeake Energy Corp. has started construction on a new field office in Lewis County at Jane Lew.

After a Roane County jury found that companies purchased by Chesapeake failed to pay a group of plaintiffs what was owed them, the company threatened to cancel building their headquarters in Charleston and leave the state.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs $405 million in damages.

The new 25,000-square-foot building along Interstate 79 will initially house 60 Chesapeake employees and is scheduled for completion in April 2008.

Most of the 60 employees already work for Chesapeake in Upshur County, but new hires are likely, according to Scott Rotruck, vice president of corporate development.

"We are very pleased to begin work on the new field office in Jane Lew," Mike John, Chesapeake Energy's vice president of operations, eastern division, said in a press release. "It is a very visible location and another example of our commitment to West Virginia."

Chesapeake has added more than 150 jobs in the Appalachian Basin.

"Building a new building suggests that we are optimistic about the Appalachian Basin," he said.