Keller Rohrback Investigates Oklahoma Land Leaseholder Claims Following McClendon Conspiracy to Not Compete for Oil and Natural Gas Leases in Oklahoma

Attorneys at Keller Rohrback L.L.P are investigating claims on behalf of Oklahoma oil and natural gas leaseholders following this week’s Department of Justice indictment against former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, Aubrey McClendon. The indictment, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma alleges that McClendon orchestrated a conspiracy in which two large oil and gas companies colluded not to bid against each other for the purchase of several oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma from approximately December 2007 – March 2012. According to the indictment, the conspirators would decide who would win the leases, with the winning bidder allotting an interest in the leases to the other company, thus suppressing prices paid to leaseholders in northwest Oklahoma.

Prosecutors have accused McClendon of ordering his subordinates at Chesapeake to follow through on agreements whereby when two companies had both bid on a lease, one would withdraw its offer in exchange for a share in the benefits of the lease once it was struck with its supposed competitor. McClendon has asserted that the conspiratorial conduct at issue is considered a standard practice in the oil industry in Oklahoma and elsewhere.

Chesapeake has subsequently disclosed that it is cooperating with the Department of Justice in a criminal antitrust probe into past land-leasing practices and had received conditional leniency, a policy in place that can only be applied to a company that admits to an antitrust violation

The alleged conspiracy by McClendon affected the prices that those offering leasehold interests, which allow the holder to develop the land and pull out oil and natural gas for a few years, and producing properties, which are tracts of land that already have wells on them producing oil and gas, could fetch for those holdings.

Bill Baer, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said these actions “put company profits ahead of the interests of leaseholders entitled to competitive bids for oil and gas rights on their land.”

Keller Rohrback’s antitrust and trade regulation practice represents individual and class plaintiffs in state and federal litigation. Our clients include consumers and businesses who have been harmed by illegal, anticompetitive conduct. If you are were an affected Oklahoma oil and natural gas leaseholders, contact attorneys Derek Loeser, Mark Griffin, or Raymond Farrow at (800) 776-6044 or via email at to learn more about our investigation.

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