Bradford County, PA May Join Royalty Lawsuit Against Chesapeake

In 2013, a group of Bradford County, PA landowners joined a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy over Chessy’s apparent cheating them out of royalties using a ploy to pay high fees for pipelines in return for investments from that pipeline company later on (see Bradford County, PA Landowners Sue Chesapeake over Royalties). Some Bradford landowners were getting royalty checks from Chessy for a few dollars–literally. At issue is a state law that stipulates drillers must pay a minimum of 1/8 of revenue from gas and oil in royalties to the landowner. The controversy comes in that Chesapeake claims their contracts allow them to deduct reasonable expenses, like getting the gas to market, from the total. And with low prices–oh well–those royalty checks go far below 1/8. So what is at issue is how you define 1/8 for the purposes of paying royalties. Is it 1/8 of the gross? Or 1/8 of the net? And what would be allowed to be deducted for the net number? MDN previously told you about PA House Bill (HB) 1684 meant to clear up the confusion. HB 1684 went no where in the legislature last year (see Does PA Royalty Bill 1684 Still Have a Chance This Year?). Looks like the bill will come back around again this year–but before it does, the supervisors of Bradford County, which has land under lease with Chesapeake, are seriously considering joining the lawsuit against Chesapeake. They’re tired of waiting for 1684 to become law and tired of being shorted on their royalties…

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