Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Encana Corp. on Wednesday vowed to fight charges they colluded to keep down prices in a 2010 lease sale in Michigan.
Representatives for the oil and natural gas producers made their initial appearances Wednesday on antitrust charges filed earlier this month by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.
“This action has no merit, and we will vigorously contest it,” Chesapeake spokesman Gordon Pennoyer said.
Chesapeake and Encana were charged March 4 with two misdemeanor counts of antitrust violations.
The more serious charge carries up to a $1 million fine for corporations.
Prosecutors claim Chesapeake and Encana executives conspired in a series of emails to divide up oil and gas leases in Michigan, according to the charges.
The emails, made public in 2012 by Reuters, included discussions between the companies’ executives about an arrangement to split up Michigan counties so that each company would be an exclusive bidder for public and private leases.
Both companies have cleared themselves of any wrongdoing after independent investigations.