Chesapeake, Encana sued in civil antitrust action

Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:54pm EST
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* Northstar Energy claims firms rigged bids in Michigan

* 2010 email shows McClendon "pushing to save us both some money"

* DOJ, Michigan Attorney General investigations ongoing

* Chesapeake, Encana boards find no antitrust violations

By Brian Grow and Joshua Schneyer

Feb 25 (Reuters) - A major Michigan landowner is suing Chesapeake Energy Corp and Encana Corp, alleging that the two energy giants colluded to rig bids for oil and gas rights in 2010.

Northstar Energy, which owns nearly 10,000 acres in Michigan's Utica-Collingwood oil and gas shale formation, filed the lawsuit against Chesapeake and Canadian firm Encana in Michigan federal court Friday.

The suit follows a series of Reuters investigations last year which triggered civil and criminal probes of Chesapeake, the second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas. In June, Reuters reported that Chesapeake and Encana, Canada's largest gas producer, worked to suppress land prices in Michigan three years ago. ()

Reuters quoted from internal Chesapeake emails that show top executives of the two companies traded proposals to divide bidding responsibilities for nine private landowners and counties in Michigan.   Continued...