Tension grows between driller and royalty owners

FORT WORTH — A local law firm is planning two big meetings in Fort Worth next week to solicit prospective clients who are Chesapeake Energy royalty owners.

The McDonald Law Firm says recent meetings in Johnson County have drawn up to 200 people, most of whom say they are being underpaid in royalty payments due to them for letting Chesapeake drill for natural gas on their properties.

"Chesapeake has cheated royalty owners out of millions of dollars by charging expenses that are excessive and unreasonable," said Dan McDonald, the lead attorney on the case. "We currently represent over 4,000 royalty owners in North Texas and across the county."

The news that there may be more options for smaller landowners comes after a number of larger entities already filed suit against Chesapeake.

The City of Fort Worth, Fort Worth ISD, the City of Arlington, Arlington ISD, and other groups of investors — including billionaire Ed Bass — all filed similar lawsuits saying they are due millions in collective royalty payments.

Chesapeake recently sold its office tower in Fort Worth.

News 8 did a series of stories last year detailing alleged underpayments by the energy company.

MORE: Stories about Chesapeake Energy

The issues surrounding Chesapeake — the area's second-largest producer — come as a recent study of the Barnett Shale indicates that oil and gas development remains a vital industry.

Published by the Perryman Group, the economic analysis says that drilling in the region accounts for "$11.8 billion in gross products per year and more than 107,650 permanent jobs."

Speaking at The Fort Worth Club on Wednesday, noted economist Dr. Ray Perryman said although things aren't where they were "in 2008 or 2009, they're still good."

"This industry, for all practical purposes, didn't exist 15 years ago in this area, and now it employs or is responsible for 100,000 jobs," he added.

Perryman's presentation was sponsored by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, and was not directly associated with any one company.

Chesapeake and Arlington recently settled their lawsuit for $700,000.

Chesapeake didn't return requests for comment on the upcoming events targeting royalty owners in Fort Worth. Two meetings are scheduled:

  • 6 p.m. Tuesday, September 16 at Brewer High School, 1025 West Loop 820 North
  • 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 17 at River Oaks Community Center, 5300 Blackstone Drive


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