One of Pennsylvania’s main natural gas drillers, Chesapeake Energy, says it’s the subject of a federal antitrust probe. As Reuters reports, the investigation allegedly centers on land purchases the company made in Michigan:
Chesapeake has received a subpoena from the antitrust division of the Justice Department’s Midwest field office, requiring the company to produce documents before a grand jury in the Western District of Michigan, according to a filing with U.S. regulators on Thursday.
In June, Reuters reported that Chesapeake plotted with its top competitor, Canada’s Encana Corp, to suppress land prices in the Collingwood shale in Northern Michigan.
Emails between Chesapeake and Encana showed the two companies repeatedly discussed how to avoid bidding against each other in a public land auction in Michigan two years ago and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners.
The Justice Department is “moving criminally,” said Darren Bush, a former antitrust attorney for the Department of Justice and a professor of antitrust law at the University of Houston. “They are working their way through the grand jury process to potentially serve up indictments.”
Click here to see how many natural gas wells Chesapeake has drilled in Pennsylvania. And if you’re behind on the problems Chesapeake has faced this year, StateImpact’s reading guide is a good place to get caught up.