The Star-Telegram’s Max Baker writes a revealing article about a district judge’s ruling that Chesapeake Energy improperly “deducted postproduction costs from royalty checks issued to Fort Worth investor Ed Bass and 20 other landowners stemming from natural gas pumped from about 4,000 acres in the Barnett Shale.”
Mineral owners getting screwed out of their royalties is something the Weekly examined a while back (“Royalty Rip-off,” April 16, 2014).
The drilling industry has pretty much denied every accusation ever leveled at them in the past 100 years. If someone accuses a driller of ruining their water wells, spewing toxins into their neighborhood, stealing royalties, or whatever, it becomes a test of wills (ie. bankrolls). A little guy can hardly take on an industry’s stable of lawyers, though some have tried. Few prevail.
Everyone knows and understands that our country needs gas and oil to survive in this world. People just want it to be done right.
Fort Worth Weekly has had its share of critics over the years for its extensive reporting on Barnett Shale drillers. This paper has examined land men who lie, lax regulation by the state, nondisclosure of toxic ingredients in frack water, hard-core lobbying of politicians to write laws that protect the industry, and many other topics. Critics (and friends of mine in the industry) sometimes say, “You don’t like to heat your house? Cook your meals?” Or they get patriotic and say, “I guess you want to be totally dependent on the Middle East for oil?”
Wanting a huge and potentially dangerous industry to do things right isn’t anti-drilling or anti-American. The Weekly‘s stance has been one of anti-lying, anti-cheating, anti-shortcuts, anti-bullying, and anti-stacking the deck against the common person.
Baker’s article shows another example of industry deceit, this one to the tune of more than $8 million.