More than two years since the cities of Dallas, Fort Worth and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Board sued Chesapeake for allegedly shorting them on millions in royalties and leaving wells undrilled, the airport and the energy company have reached an agreement.
As the price of natural gas hovers at a bargain-basement low of around $2.50 per million British Thermal Units, all sides agree that Chesapeake should have some flexibility on when it drills wells located on airport property. This comes at a time when Chesapeake, a leading Barnett Shale leaseholder, has halved its drilling operations in this part of the state.
"On the part of the litigation that deals with retained tracts, I believe we've come to a mutually agreeable decision," DFW Airport's vice president for commercial development, John Terrell, tells Unfair Park. "And I believe the city councils of Dallas and Fort Worth will think so too."
Because the land in question is owned by the cities, both must approve the settlement. The original agreement between Chesapeake and the airport stated that the company had to drill three wells by December 31, 2012; another three by the end of 2013; and eight more wells by the end of 2014. The new agreement pushes back the deadlines on the first six wells by a year apiece. It's likely that both the airport board and Chesapeake are hoping that the price of natural gas will rebound in the meantime.
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