RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Attorneys for property owners in Virginia's coalfields region who say they were cheated out of untold millions in royalty payments for natural gas drilled on their land are asking a federal judge to order two energy companies to show how much they drilled and reaped from the resource.
The request is contained in briefs seeking summary judgment in class-action lawsuits involving thousands of landowners. They want to free up nearly $30 million in disputed payments and what they say is much more in royalties they are owed because of overcharges and underpayments.
The lawsuits name EQT production Co. and CNX Gas Co., Pittsburgh-area companies that have drilled more than 7,000 wells in southwest Virginia to siphon methane gas from coal seams.
Asked to comment on the filing, EQT issued a statement: "At this time we intend to make our response to these filings in court." CNX parent CONSOL Energy said it was reviewing the filings. Both companies have previously denied the claims in the lawsuits.
The plaintiffs' attorneys contend the disputed royalties held in a state escrow account has subjected the landowners to an "involuntary lease" and established below-market royalty payments for methane gas royalties.
Don Barrett, lead attorney for the property owners, said the lawsuits are intended to determine how much EQT and CNX truly owe the property owners.
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