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What Chesapeake Deal Could Mean to Landowners, Drilling in NY

(Source: Jason Weinstein)

A deal between Chesapeake Energy and a group of about 200 Southern Tier landowners to release them from leases with the company means one thing for those leaseholders.

"The landowners we have been working with are now free agents to negotiate other deals. And most of them would like to do that," said Scott Kurkoski, an attorney who represents the landowners.

This comes after a November 2012 decision by U-S District Court Judge David Hurd rejected Chesapeake's claim New York's de facto moratorium on fracking allowed it to extend leases under a force majeure clause. Chesapeake had been appealing. Fracking opponents say he court battle is a warning.

"The fact that it takes a lawsuit to do what is right is an indication of how badly gas companies treat people," said Ellen Harrison, Co-Founder of FLEASED, a group comprised of landowners unhappy with their leases.

Anti-fracking advocates also say this deal shows the low price of natural gas -  trading today at $3.30 per million Btu's - have companies not interested in drilling in New York.

"Right now the low price of gas caused by their own overproduction is what is keeping them from New York," said FLEASED Co-Founder and attorney Joe Heath.

The attorney for the landowners involved in this deal says that is not the case.

"I'm negotiating deals in Pennsylvania right now that are just across our border. Other companies that are there, WPX, Fortuna which is now Talisman, Southwest, they are drilling wills and still negotiating leases," said Kurkoski.

Kurkoski says while the landowners involved in this deal are free agents, it will take the state allowing fracking for them to strike an advantageous deal.

"A lot of companies before they agree to invest in New York want to know that they're going to be able to do something with their investment. I think as soon as the Governor lifts the moratorium and gives the green light we'll be set to go," said Kurkoski.

****In Broome County, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 HD News****

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