As we all know, the landscape of Northeastern Pennsylvania has changed dramatically in the last 5 years with the discovery of natural gas. Along with that, we have seen many large companies signing lease agreements with landowners to drill and pull the gas from under their farms and other lands.
Although the natural gas drilling has had a good upside for the economy of Northeastern PA, there have been negatives as well. One of the biggest legal negatives for the landowners has been the payment of royalties from the profits of the gas drawn from their lands. Landowners have been seeing less and less royalties paid to them and higher “costs” deducted from those payments by the gas companies. Some people have even seen bills from the gas companies for drawing the gas!
One of the largest offenders is Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC. Recently, it was announced that Chesapeake had entered into a settlement agreement through the Federal Court system with regards to the complaints of the improper deductions and calculation of royalty payments. In fact, by now, anyone who currently has a lease agreement with Chesapeake should have received a notice about this proposed settlement. The notice sent by Chesapeake informs the landowners of their rights to participate in the settlement or to “opt out” of the settlement. If you do not opt out, you will be bound by the terms of the settlement agreement and will never be able to make a separate claim about the royalty payment terms again!
It is very important that anyone with a lease agreement with Chesapeake talk to a lawyer very soon about this settlement. The terms can be very harmful to your past and future royalty payments. There is a fast approaching deadline to “opt out.” If you do not “opt out” by December 17, 2015, you will be bound by the settlement.
If you have a gas lease, call our office today for a free review and consultation regarding your lease and the potential class action settlement.