Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit at PA Supreme Court – Can of Worms?

Yesterday MDN brought you the news the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging whether or not the state Attorney General’s office has the right to use a consumer protection law to prosecute companies like Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko over royalty payment shenanigans (see PA Supremes to Consider Long-Running Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit). The law the AG’s office wants to use has never been used that way before. According to legal experts, drillers are very concerned if the AG’s office wins this one.
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PA Supremes to Consider Long-Running Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit

In December 2015, Pennsylvania’s felony-indicted Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (who later was convicted and did jail time) brought a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy and Anadarko accusing them of royalty fraud (see PA Atty General Sues Chesapeake Energy, Williams for Royalty Fraud). Her successor, Josh Shapiro, has continued the fight.
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Deal is Done: Anadarko Petroleum Now Part of Occidental Petroleum

Anadarko Petroleum, as an independent company, is no more. The company has officially sold itself and is now merged into Occidental Petroleum in a cash, stock and assumption of debt deal worth $55 billion. At one point Chevron had a deal to buy Anadarko, but Anadarko left them at the altar, along with a $1 billion deal abortion payment (see Anadarko Leaves Chevron at the Altar to Elope with Occidental).
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Chevron Leaves the Altar with $1B, Waves Goodbye to Anadarko

Whew, that was close. We’ve had a concern that if Chevron ended up buying Anadarko Petroleum (for Anadarko’s Permian Basin oil assets), it might lead to Chevron pulling back from their drilling program in the Marcellus/Utica (see Permian Love Story: Chevron Buying Anadarko in $50B Megamerger). We don’t have to worry any more. Even though Anadarko signed a deal to sell itself to Chevron, Occidental Petroleum made a bid to buy the company too (see Occidental Petroleum Offers 14% More than Chevron to Buy Anadarko). There’s a breakup clause in the signed Chevron deal. Anadarko would have to pay Chevron $1 billion for leaving them at the altar.
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Anadarko Leaves Chevron at the Altar to Elope with Occidental

The battle to buy Anadarko Petroleum by Chevron and Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) has taken an interesting turn. Over the weekend Oxy revised its offer. It will still pay Anadarko shareholders $57 billion (as before), but the offer was revised to dial up the amount of cash and dial down the amount of stock swaps. Never hurts to use cash as a sweetener. The new offer did the trick. Although Anadarko previously signed an agreement to sell itself to Chevron, Anadarko announced yesterday they are leaving Chevron at the altar and riding off into the sunset to elope with Oxy.
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Anadarko Decides Occidental Petroleum Deal Better than Chevron’s

An interesting development in the bidding war to buy Anadarko Petroleum. Two weeks ago Chevron announced a deal to buy Anadarko Petroleum for $33 billion plus assuming outstanding debt, a deal worth $50 billion (see Permian Love Story: Chevron Buying Anadarko in $50B Megamerger). Paperwork was actually signed. But Occidental Petroleum previously had offered a “better” deal, and went public with their offer last week (see Occidental Petroleum Offers 14% More than Chevron to Buy Anadarko). Now that the Oxy offer is public, Reuters is reporting super secret inside sources say the Anadarko board has decided to drop Chevron and pursue a deal with Oxy instead.

4/30/19 UPDATE: Anadarko officially announces decision to resume negotiations with Occidental. See announcement below.
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Occidental Petroleum Offers 14% More than Chevron to Buy Anadarko

Less than two weeks ago Chevron announced a deal to buy Anadarko Petroleum for $33 billion plus assuming outstanding debt, a deal worth $50 billion (see Permian Love Story: Chevron Buying Anadarko in $50B Megamerger). At the time we told you about a potential cloud on the horizon–that Occidental Petroleum had offered more for Anadarko. Indeed, Oxy wants Anadarko too, and a full-blown bidding war has now erupted. Yesterday Oxy made it’s offer public, an offer 14% higher than Chevron’s offer: $57 billion.
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Permian Love Story: Chevron Buying Anadarko in $50B Megamerger

Another truly huge merger/buyout was announced Friday when Chevron said it is buying Anadarko Petroleum for $33 billion. When you factor in Chevron assuming Anadarko’s debt, the total deal is valued at $50 billion, a number hard to wrap your brain around. The key question for us is: What does this mean for Chevron’s drilling program in the Marcellus/Utica?

UPDATE: See our note below about Anadarko in PA.
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PA Commonwealth Court Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive

In December 2017, a Bradford County, PA judge turned down Chesapeake Energy’s attempt to wiggle out of a royalty lawsuit on a technicality (see Bradford County, PA Judge Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive). However, the judge punted the case to a higher court, Commonwealth Court, to settle what he calls “novel questions of law”–rather than spending more time and money on such issues at the county court level. On Friday Commonwealth Court ruled…
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Liberal Groups Force Range, Anadarko to Consider Global Warming

We get tired of saying it, but perhaps we should never get tired of saying that according to the most reliable methods of tracking temperatures on earth (by satellite), THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING. The only way global warming alarmists get away with claiming the earth is heating up is by using doctored computer algorithms. The actual testing and measurement of temps doesn’t show we’re heating up! And yet the manipulators who persist in using scare tactics that mankind is somehow causing the earth to heat up catastrophically by burning fossil fuels and leaking methane into the atmosphere, have just claimed a couple of more scalps in their efforts to shut down the fossil fuel industry. A so-called church, the Unitarian Universalist Association (people who believe in everything, consequently they believe in nothing) bought $2,000 worth of Range Resources stock and proposed a resolution to all shareholders at the annual meeting that forces Range to publish a report on how evil the company is for causing global warming (i.e. produce a report on Range’s efforts to scale back methane emissions). The measure passed by 50.25%. A group called As You Sow bought Anadarko stock and floated a resolution instructing the company to produce a report on how mythical man-made global warming will affect the company financially as it will no doubt have to scale back its exploration and production. That resolution passed by 53%. These groups, with innocent-sounding names, are NOT innocent. They are far left, liberal groups that have snookered shareholders into voting against their own best interests by harming the very companies they invest in, forcing those companies, ultimately, to stop drilling. All in the name of “climate change” (i.e. global warming)…
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Bradford County, PA Judge Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive

A Bradford County, PA judge has turned down Chesapeake Energy’s attempt to wiggle out of a royalty lawsuit on a technicality. However, the judge also punted the case to a higher court to settle what he calls “novel questions of law”–rather than spending more time and money on such issues at the county court level. This is good news for landowners in Bradford County who have been shafted by Chesapeake’s royalty scheme to shift the cost of piping and processing to landowners by using inflated values for those services. In December 2015, Pennsylvania’s felony-indicted Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (now gone), brought a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, Anadarko and Williams accusing them of, among other things, royalty fraud (see PA Atty General Sues Chesapeake Energy, Williams for Royalty Fraud). In May 2016, Chesapeake and Anadarko filed to dismiss Kane’s complaints against them, accusing Kane of attempting to litigate federal antitrust claims in state court (see Chesapeake, Anadarko Try to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit). In June 2016 Kane’s office fired back by filing a motion to keep the case in state, not federal, court. In August, U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher C. Conner granted Kane’s motion–the case stays in the state court system (see Lawsuit Against Chesapeake, Anadarko Heads Back to PA Court). With a new AG now in place, Chesapeake and Anadarko tried to get the lawsuit tossed yet again–this time by saying the law that the AG’s office claims was violated has to do with consumer protection, for people who buy things. Chessy & Anadarko argue landowners aren’t buying anything, they’re selling (minerals), so the law doesn’t protect them from predatory leasing practices (see Chesapeake Tries to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit on Technicality). The Bradford County judge didn’t buy Chesapeake’s argument…
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Top 10 Drillers in All of PA, by Number of Permits Issued

Yesterday we brought you the “Top 10” drillers in southwestern Pennsylvania, as ranked by the number of permits issued (see Top 10 Drillers in SWPA, by Number of Permits Issued). Today we’re bringing you the Top 10 list of drillers by number of permits issued for the entire state of PA. As you might imagine, the picture statewide is quite a bit different from looking at only SWPA. Yes, some of the same companies are in both lists–but only three are in both lists (Range Resources, EQT and Rice Energy). Our Top 10 list is extracted from a list prepared by the (must read) Pittsburgh Business Times…
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Fed Court Exonerates Anadarko in PA Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In May 2012 a water truck driver delivering water to an Anadarko Marcellus Shale well pad in Clinton County, PA missed a turnoff for the road he was supposed to take, at 2:30 am in the morning. A couple of miles later he crashed and tragically died because the road he was on was not marked well and not conducive to the truck he was driving. There was a sign warning the driver not to go beyond a certain point. The driver had previously–that night–already delivered to the well pad and successfully turned onto the road he was supposed to take. Why did he miss it the second time? His widow maintains that even though he worked for a subcontractor, Anadarko was the company in charge and should have had a light illuminating the “No Anadarko Traffic Beyond This Point” sign. So she sued Anadarko, and the subcontractor, for wrongful death. Lower courts threw out the lawsuit but a federal appeals court reinstated a civil suit against Anadarko (see Fed Court Rules PA Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Anadarko Proceeds). The federal court has just ruled. The judge found that Anadarko is not at fault in this tragic accident…
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Chesapeake Tries to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit on Technicality

In December 2015, Pennsylvania’s felony-indicted Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (now gone), brought a lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, Anadarko and Williams accusing them of, among other things, royalty fraud (see PA Atty General Sues Chesapeake Energy, Williams for Royalty Fraud). In May 2016, MDN reported that Chesapeake and Anadarko had filed to dismiss Kane’s complaints against them, accusing Kane of attempting to litigate federal antitrust claims in state court (see Chesapeake, Anadarko Try to Wiggle Out of PA Royalty Lawsuit). In June 2016 Kane’s office fired back by filing a motion to keep the case in state, not federal, court. In August, U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher C. Conner granted Kane’s motion–the case stays in the state court system (see Lawsuit Against Chesapeake, Anadarko Heads Back to PA Court). We now have a new AG (thank God), but it’s the same case and once again Chesapeake and Anadarko are trying to get the lawsuit tossed–this time by saying the law that the AG claims was violated has to do with consumer protection–for people who buy things. Chessy & Anadarko argue landowners aren’t buying anything, they’re selling (minerals), so the law doesn’t protect them from predatory leasing practices. The Bradford County judge in charge of the case is considering their latest argument to wiggle out of the lawsuit, based on a technicality…
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Top 10 Natural Gas Producers in the U.S., Post-EQT/Rice Merger

As we were reading about yesterday’s big news of EQT buying Rice Energy, we came across a couple of lists (same list, different sources) listing the top 10 natural gas-producing companies in the United States. The list was reworked to show that the combination of EQT and Rice will create the #1 largest natural gas-producing company in the country. An astonishing feat. But what caught our eye in looking over the “top 10” list was just how many of the companies in that list have operations in the Marcellus/Utica. At one time or another, all 10 of the top 10 owned leases and/or drilled in the Marcellus/Utica. By our count, 8 of the top 10 still do. You already know that EQT/Rice will become the #1 producer. But who is #2, and #3? And what about the rest of the list? We have it for you below…
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NEPA Landowners Fight to Sue Chesapeake’s Partners

We’re going to take a stab at this, and we are not confident we will get it 100% right. With that as a warning, we recently reported that a case brought by landowners in northeastern PA against Chesapeake Energy over unwarranted royalty deductions suffered a bit of a setback (see Chesapeake Scores Court Victory to Prevent PA Royalty Class Action). Essentially, the landowners (in this case Scout Energy) argued that since the leases signed say royalty disputes must go to arbitration, we want mass arbitration. A class action, in other words. In May, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann of the Middle District of Pennsylvania (overseeing the case) issued an opinion that said Chesapeake is right in demanding each case get arbitrated individually–not as part of a class action. The landowners in four cases (all of which seem to be joined, or at least moving along together) filed briefs last week to make a new argument. And here’s where we are not 100% sure, but we think the argument is this: OK, we have to go to arbitration and now it has to be individually. However, there are other defendants named in the case (Anadarko, Williams, Statoil, Mitsui E&P). Since the lease language says the lease is between the landowner and the driller (i.e. Chesapeake), that means the other defendants are NOT covered by the arbitration clause and we (the landowners) can still sue them as a class action. Why? Because (allegedly) those companies colluded together with Chesapeake to “reduce, restrain or eliminate competition for gas and mineral rights, operations rights and gathering serves in multiple counties in Northern Pennsylvania.” Oy vey! It keeps getting more complicated as the days go by…
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