PA AG Not Backing Down re Chesapeake Energy Royalty Lawsuit

At the end of last year Chesapeake Energy offered a $30 million olive branch to Pennsylvania landowners to settle claims the company had screwed them out of royalty money by artificially inflating post-production costs in an elaborate scheme to pocket more money at landowners’ expense (see Chesapeake Agrees to $30M Royalty Settlement for PA Landowners). Chesapeake’s proffered deal would 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 reset the terms of their leases going forward. The catch is that Chesapeake won’t pull the trigger on the deal unless/until PA’s Attorney General, who has an ongoing, separate lawsuit filed against Chesapeake over the same issue, settles as well. PA AG Josh Shapiro has fired back saying he will not cave to Chesapeake’s “pressure tactic” and settle. PA landowners are caught in the middle. Some of them want the Chesapeake $30M chump change deal saying a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. That is, the AG may eventually lose his case–and it will take years to play out. Why not take the money and run now, especially if we can reset the lease terms to prevent any more gouging by Chesapeake? But other landowners, including National Association of Royalty Owners (PA Chapter) President Jackie Root say PA landowners “deserve better” than the deal offered by Chesapeake. Here’s the latest in the royalty wars…

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