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Reuters: How Chesapeake Aggressively Goes After Land Rights

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon

Reuters is back with another investigative report about Chesapeake Energy, which operates more Pennsylvania shale wells than any other company. Reuters’ latest report examines the aggressive tactics Chesapeake uses to acquire land:

Chesapeake’s rationale is clearly spelled out in company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“We believed that the winner of these land grabs would enjoy competitive advantages for decades to come as other companies would be locked out of the best new unconventional resource plays in the U.S.,” the company wrote in its 2012 filing.

It has been less forthcoming about the tactics used in implementing that strategy, however.

Reuters reviewed hundreds of internal Chesapeake emails and thousands of pages of documents, including in-house data that show how Chesapeake evaluates its land acquisitions.

Reporters also examined dozens of lawsuits by land owners in seven states, and interviewed contractors proffering deals for the company.

What emerged were approaches to leasing property that land brokers, land owners and lawyers say push ethical and legal limits. Chesapeake has unilaterally altered or backed out of leases. And in Texas and at least three other states, it has exploited little-known laws to force owners to hand over drilling rights and sometimes forfeit profits.

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