By Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post
Nearly 200 landowners in Douglas and Elbert counties signed mineral leases with Chesapeake Energy expecting thousands of dollars in signing bonuses only to have the company walk away without paying a cent.
After holding the leases for as much as 11 months, Oklahoma City-based
Chesapeake filed forms releasing its claim to 55 properties in Douglas County and 133 in Elbert County, according to assessor’s office records.
The move comes as Chesapeake is facing a financing gap and, according to top executives, a waning interest in the Niobrara formation in Colorado.
The discovery in 2009 of oil in the Niobrara, which stretches from El Paso County north into Wyoming, set off a scramble among oil companies to lock up leases. Oil company landmen fanned out across the Front Range knocking on doors in the suburbs offering leases.
“We submitted all the paperwork. We hand-delivered it,” said Adams, who was to get a $6,000 bonus for his 10 acres in Elbert County.
Five months later, Adams said, he was told that a key document had not been filed by his mortgage company in time.