Federal Judge to Rule on Land Owners’ Dispute with Gas Drillers
August 10, 2011
A federal district judge will decide whether a dispute over expired natural gas leases will be resolved through the courts or arbitration. More than 150 landowners with over 10,000 acres filed a civil lawsuit in March to declare the natural gas leases with Chesapeake Appalachia declared null and void.
Although the leases expired in 2010, Chesapeake is attempting to argue that the leases are still valid under the doctrine of “force majeure” which permits gas companies to extend leases they sign due to unforeseen issues that prevent drilling from natural gas—in this case claiming that New York’s moratorium on drilling/hydrofracking is an unforeseen issue. The court will determine the validity of the force majeure claim if the judge rules against arbitration.