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Tit for tat


Gazette staff July 18th, 2012

This week at the ’Peake: a $100 million ruling against the company, and a couple of energy giants allegedly team up to cheat landowners.

Credit: Brad Gregg

On July 11, Businessweek reported that Chesapeake was ordered to pay $100 million to three leaseholders who claimed the Oklahoma City-based company reneged on an agreement to purchase mineral rights.

Filed in 2008, the lawsuit brought by three Texas energy companies alleged Chesapeake failed to complete the purchase of three gas leases it had been working on when energy prices tumbled.

Meanwhile, allegations of collusion continued to unfold. Reuters, which has been on the Chesapeake saga like a duck on a June bug, reported July 11 that Chesapeake may have gotten sensitive information from a rival Canadian energy company, Encana, to give Chesapeake the upper hand against landowners in negotiations.

The most recent story reveals emails from Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon addressed to Encana U.S. president Jeff Wojahn asking whether the company was exiting a Michigan play, as well as emails from McClendon to subordinates telling them to delay lease signings, possibly because the company did not have to worry about competition from Encana, Reuters reported.

Land prices fell shortly after the email exchanges, according to Reuters.

Antitrust investigators told Reuters it’s likely the newest batch of emails could provide more fodder for investigators.

That brings the number of federal agencies investigating Chesapeake or McClendon to at least three: the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice.

Any guesses at who is not going to be on Chesapeake’s Christmas card mailing list this year?


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