By Edward McAllister
NEW YORK, Sept 4 Chesapeake Energy Corp
will finalize an agreement next week to drop about 12,000 acres
of land leased for energy drilling in New York state, as a
moratorium on fracking continues into its sixth year.
Reuters reported last month that Chesapeake decided to walk
away from about 100 leases in Broome and Tioga Counties in the
south of the state, ending a two-year legal battle with
landowners who wanted to cancel expired leases or renegotiate
for better terms.
Lawyers representing Chesapeake said in a letter to the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday that they
were in the final stages of negotiating a settlement and that a
deal is expected to be made official next week.
Lawyers representing landowners confirmed the impending
"Assuming there are no objections, we should sign the
stipulation of settlement sometime next week," said Scott
Kurkoski, a partner at Levene Gouldin & Thompson, who has sent
the final settlement to his landowner clients for review.
Chesapeake had been appealing a decision by a federal court
in New York state that ruled in November the company could not
use a state ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing, known as
fracking, as a reason to declare force majeure and hold on to
leases beyond their expiry without offering landowners better
Chesapeake's decision to drop the leases is a sign of the
growing frustration of energy firms over operating in the Empire
State, where most drilling is on hold. It is also an indication
that the Oklahoma-based company is reining in spending after
years of aggressive acreage buying left it with a huge debt.