This excerpt taken from the CHK 10-K filed Feb 29, 2008.
A portion of our oil and gas production may be subject to interruptions that could temporarily adversely affect our cash flow.
A portion of our regional oil and gas production may be interrupted, or shut in, from time to time for numerous reasons, including as a result of weather conditions, accidents, loss of pipeline or gathering system access, field labor issues or strikes, or intentionally as a result of market conditions. If a substantial amount of our production is interrupted at the same time, it could temporarily adversely affect our cash flow.
Information regarding our properties is included in Item 1 and in Note 11 of the notes to our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this report.
We are involved in various disputes incidental to our business operations, including claims from royalty owners regarding volume measurements, post-production costs and prices for royalty calculations. In Tawney, et al. v. Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., Chesapeakes wholly owned subsidiary Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., formerly known as Columbia Natural Resources, LLC (CNR), is a defendant in a class action lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Roane County, West Virginia filed in 2003 by royalty owners. The plaintiffs allege that CNR underpaid royalties by improperly deducting post-production costs, failing to pay royalty on total volumes of natural gas produced and not paying a fair value for the natural gas produced from their leases. The plaintiff class consists of West Virginia royalty owners receiving royalties after July 31, 1990 from CNR. Chesapeake acquired CNR in November 2005, and its seller acquired CNR in 2003 from NiSource Inc. NiSource, a co-defendant in the case, has managed the litigation and indemnified Chesapeake against underpayment claims based on the use of fixed prices for natural gas production sold under certain forward sale contracts and other claims with respect to CNRs operations prior to September 2003.
On January 27, 2007, the Circuit Court jury returned a verdict against the defendants of $404 million, consisting of $134 million in compensatory damages and $270 million in punitive damages. Most of the damages awarded by the jury relate to issues not yet addressed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, although in June 2006 that Court ruled against the defendants on two certified questions regarding the deductibility of
post-production expenses. The jury found fraudulent conduct by the defendants with respect to the sales prices used to calculate royalty payments and with respect to the failure of CNR to disclose post-production deductions. On June 28, 2007, the Circuit Court sustained the jury verdict for punitive damages, and on September 27, 2007, it denied all post-trial motions, including defendants motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, for a new trial. On December 5, 2007, the Circuit Court entered an order granting defendants motion to stay the judgment pending appeal conditioned upon filing an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $50 million. The irrevocable letter of credit was filed January 4, 2008. On January 24, 2008, the defendants filed a Petition for Appeal in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
Chesapeake and NiSource maintain CNR acted in good faith and paid royalties in accordance with lease terms and West Virginia law. Chesapeake has established an accrual for amounts it believes will not be indemnified. Should a final nonappealable judgment be entered, Chesapeake believes its share of damages will not have a material adverse effect on its results of operations, financial condition or liquidity.
Chesapeake is subject to other legal proceedings and claims which arise in the ordinary course of business. In our opinion, the final resolution of these proceedings and claims will not have a material adverse effect on the company.