Chesapeake settles with Southern Tier landowners in gas-lease dispute


The natural-gas rights to 13,000 acres of land will be released and a legal appeal will be dropped as part of a settlement Monday between a major energy company and 200 Southern Tier landowners.

The agreement between gas giant Chesapeake Energy and the property owners puts an end to three years of legal wrangling over a set of mineral-rights leases that had been set to expire in 2010.

Chesapeake and lease partner Statoilhydro, which possessed the $3-an-acre leases, had claimed New York’s makeshift moratorium on large-scale hydraulic fracturing had constituted a “force majeure” event — a legal clause that allows a contract to be extended for certain unforeseen circumstances. Landowners in Broome and Tioga counties sued to have the leases, which were originally scheduled to expire in 2010, thrown out.

A state Supreme Court judge U.S. District Court judge sided with the landowners, but Chesapeake had appealed the ruling. As part of the settlement, the appeal will be dropped, according to Levene, Gouldin & Thompson, the Broome County-based law firm representing the property owners.

“This is a great victory for our landowners,” attorney Cindy Manchester said. “Our clients achieved the right outcome by working together in an impressive collaborative effort.”


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