BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. -- Seven families are fighting to stop a natural gas company's last-minute drilling plans on their land before the company's lease expires next month.
The McRoberts family woke up Tuesday morning to find tree-cutters lined up along their property in Darlington, Beaver County, getting ready to clear a quarter-mile path to a proposed gas well site.
"Four generations of McRoberts have farmed this land, and we pay the taxes and they're going to tell us what they're going to do? And they lied from the beginning," said property owner Susan McRoberts.
When Channel 4 Action News' Jim Parsons went to the McRoberts' property, the tree-cutters left without cutting any branches.
"Chesapeake (Energy) doesn't even have a permit to drill this well, and yet they want to come in here and cut these folks' trees down without any compensation," said McRoberts family attorney Steve Townsend.
Townsend filed a lawsuit Tuesday against O & G Investment of Ohio, which signed gas leases with the McRoberts and six other families in 2005.
O & G sold those leases last year to Chesapeake Energy, which is also named in the suit.
The suit accuses O & G of "intentionally and fraudulently misrepresenting to the plaintiffs that (it) would reasonably develop the mineral resources underlying their land."
"They promised these people the world and didn't pay a dime, and took their land and held it hostage for years," said Townsend.
With the leases set to expire next month, the McRoberts are trying to stop Chesapeake from conducting a last-minute drilling operation.
"It's too late, too late. Listen Jim, I couldn't rent a car for $200 a month and not pay for it. They've had thousands of acres of land here that they've not paid one cent for and they've held it seven to 10 years and haven't paid anybody any money," said Townsend.
Chesapeake Energy has not commented.
Pete old boy...you do a major disservice to yourself and other landowners by talking smack that you have absolutely no perspective on... or should I say you have a very warped perspective. I defy you to point out ONE single press release or annual report wherein an oil and gas company brags about duping idiot landowners...yah, that's going to play real well in the media.
CHK...personally I don't like them, but if you want to take part in the supposed billions that they line their pockets with...go buy some of their stock.
Sure, publicly traded stocks provide prospectus's... Enron had one, WorldCom had one, Tyco, Adelphia... so what?? Wow... an oil and gas company spends $10Million for a seismic survey, and they should just hand the results over to your for FREE??? Go commission your own seismic survey, it's your God given right. And even if you do have seismic in your possession, its not the end all/be all to determining whether or not your property is worth squat and whether it will produce gas. We had seismic covering Columbia County PA... sure, it pointed to evidence that the area was underlain with Marcellus Shale. The problem was that it doesn't have any recoverable gas in it... at least not enough to be commercially viable. Waaah... can we please have our $34Million in bonus money back???
Go whine about something that is actually factual, something you do have knowledge about... because you sure don't possess any knowledge about the oil and gas business.
I agree with you Mike. I know of a local family who signed for $25/acre then decided to sue the gas co. when neighbors were getting $1500/acre (and the signing bonus climbed even higher). They got nowhere. They signed a legal document agreeing to the terms and were held to it.
What you sign to and agree to is a done deal.
Why in the hell would anyone sign a 7 or 10 year lease for no compensation?
Why would they sign anything without insisting on a copy to take with them?
Why would they not consult with a good oil and gas attorney before signing ANY lease?
You have to lay a lot of blame on the landowners who signed these leases. I have seen no reference to a gun being put to any of their heads to get them to sign.
You are right. They signed the deal and now they don't like it. The deal said that they had x number of years to develop or drill presumptively. So now they realize they made a bad deal and want out. A contract is a contract.
Frank, I assume you mean that they did not get any bonus money. Are they part of a unit? Will they be getting royalties?
The latest (in Post Gazette 20 minutes ago).
I have a problem with both CHK and the landowners on this -- no one is taking responsibility for their actions.
"A Chesapeake representative responded that the company "is continuing with construction of the project" because it believes that its application for a conditional use entitles it to drill, even if the application was not granted."
This is classic CHK do what I want and worry about any ramifications later. CHK is bulldozing their way through as usual. Not to mention the news today about the CEO having his hand in the cookie jar without disclosure.
and the comment by the Roberts family that they "were trickd by land men into signing it without fully reviewing it" reads like hog wash to me. Even though this was pre-Marcellus Shale -- you read any contract before signing. And if you don't understand it, find someone who does.
Frank, I beleive you will be wrong on the statement that they received nothing, not one penny. I signed at the same time, as well as lots of others here, and we did receive compensation, just not very much. Everyone I know did get a copy of the whole lease. I don't know where your information is coming from, but I believe it to be wrong.
Of course no one knew what laid underneath us then either, so the leases weren't really worth much at the time.
If it wasn't for us early cheap signers, to get the two 'wildcat' wells drilled, we would be at least 5 years or more behind finding what is under us. So it was these cheap leases that started the ball rolling in Beaver County.
I know I'm not wrong. I know the families well. You can look their numbers up and all them if you like.
Excellent advice Drill Baby Drill, suitable for framing.
Are you talking about the lawsuit where there was a phrase that allowed them the lessors to seek a better offer allowing CHK to match it or lose that lease? CHK refused to match the lease offer by another competitor.