Chesapeake Agrees to $30M Royalty Settlement for PA Landowners

Chesapeake Energy is holding out an olive branch to Pennsylvania landowners–the offer of settling a years-old class action lawsuit for $30 million–as reparations for shafting PA landowners out of royalties. But–and it’s a big but–Chesapeake is also snatching the olive branch away unless/until the PA Attorney General’s office resolves its separate lawsuit against Chesapeake for the same thing. No deal with the AG? No final settlement. Chesapeake’s lawyer calls it “global peace”–which we find amusing. The lawyer said “we need global peace,” meaning both lawsuits must be settled. His comment reminds us of the recent song blaring on the radio over the holidays called, “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” Yeah, don’t we all want “global peace.” Chesapeake’s proffered deal will give the average PA leaseholder (some 14,000 of them) a one-time $2,140 payment–adjusted up or down for the size of their acreage. Frankly, it’s chump change. The big concession by Chesapeake in the proposed deal is that it gives landowners the right to clarify the terms of their leases: “Every Chesapeake lessor will get to pick how their royalties are paid going forward.” Landowners can choose to continue letting Chesapeake market the gas outside of the region (theoretically for a higher price) but requiring the landowner to share in post-production expenses with Chessy as has been the case, OR landowners can rework the lease so there are no post-production expenses deducted. In the second case royalties will be based on the local price of gas in that landowner’s area (typically in the basement). It’s a tough decision. So, landowners got shafted in the past, but the past is the past. Going forward, let’s not get shafted any more. That’s what this proposed deal seems to boil down to. Oh, and throw in a few grand as the cherry on top. The billion dollar question is whether or not the AG’s office will go for it. The AG’s office is signaling it may settle, IF Chesapeake picks a number higher than $30 million as a settlement number…

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