Encana Corp. on Monday reached a settlement with Michigan prosecutors who had charged the Canadian natural gas producer of colluding with Chesapeake Energy Corp. to keep prices down in a 2010 land auction.
Encana agreed to a pay a $5 million civil fine.
Chesapeake, meanwhile, vowed to continue fighting the charges.
“This changes nothing for Chesapeake. The Michigan state action has no merit and we are vigorously contesting it,” spokesman Gordon Pennoyer said. “There was never an agreement between Chesapeake and Encana regarding leasing activity in Michigan in 2010.
“Our board reached that conclusion more than a year ago after a thorough review, and now the Department of Justice Antitrust Division has closed its investigation related to leasing activities in Michigan.”
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 executives from the two companies 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 had denied any wrongdoing after clearing themselves in internal investigations.
The U.S. Justice Department ended its probe into the the companies’ activities last week without filing any charges.