A day after the Fort Worth ISD sued Chesapeake Energy over its royalty payment practices, the Star-Telegram filed its own suit against the natural gas producer, alleging two Chesapeake units improperly deducted costs from royalties on one lease and has failed to pay royalties on another. The suit seeks between $200,000 and $1 million in damages. A number of royalty owners in the Barnett Shale, including the cities of Fort Worth and Arlington, and in other states have sued Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake over similar issues. In one of the largest such cases, the company last year paid $7.5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit in Pennsylvania alleging underpayments of royalties.
According to the Star-Telegram's suit, filed in state court in Fort Worth, the Star-Telegram signed two leases with Chesapeake, one in Tarrant County in 2007 and one in Johnson County in 2010. On the Tarrant County lease, the suit says Chesapeake "impermissibly deducted certain costs and expenses from the royalties due Star-Telegram. Further, it appears as though Chesapeake has failed to properly pay Star-Telegram on the full volumes of gas that are applicable to Star-Telegram's royalty share." In the Johnson County lease, the suit alleges Chesapeake began production from wells on a unit that includes the Star-Telegram's lease as early as March 2011, but the Star-Telegram has never received any royalties on it.
-- Jim Fuquay