Baker, Ahles & Kaskovich

Chesapeake lease holders get a surprise: Bigger royalty checks

Chesapeake Energy is sending out bigger royalty checks but no one is saying why.
Chesapeake Energy is sending out bigger royalty checks but no one is saying why. Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

It’s not a question Chesapeake Energy hears very often: Why is my royalty check suddenly bigger?

Some local landowners holding leases with the Oklahoma City energy giant, who were used to getting checks for $100 or less, are unexpectedly receiving larger sums, sometimes $1,000 or more.

What gives, they ask? Along with the check is a statement — sometimes short, but some several pages long — where it appears that Chesapeake has recalculated royalties on production going back years.

This surprise bounty is happy news for property owners, but it is raising eyebrows.

The Star-Telegram obtained an email from Fort Worth attorney Dan McDonald, who has filed more than 400 lawsuits against Chesapeake over underpaid royalties, asking clients who have received checks to contact his office. “It appears from the check stub, or check detail, that Chesapeake has recalculated the payment,” the email states.

Asked about his email, the usually talkative McDonald said: “No comment.” Chesapeake’s spokesman Gordon Pennoyer also declined to discuss the checks.

Now why wouldn’t Chesapeake want to crow about giving its royalty owners good news? The answer may be as simple as the company clearing up titles and accounts, no more, no less. It has thousands of leases in the Barnett Shale, so it could be no big deal. And not everyone getting this manna from heaven is a client of McDonald’s.

But the pending litigation between Chesapeake and McDonald may explain why they aren’t talking. While the two sides have been at loggerheads, they recently settled two lawsuits that were about to go to trial and there’s talk that more settlements may follow.

Stay tuned.

Acme Brick is 125 years old

Fort Worth-based Acme Brick Co. turned 125 years old on April 17.

The company held events at 66 offices in 14 states, and at 22 brick and and block plants, before the actual day. A 125th birthday plaque was dedicated at each location.

Governors of Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma issued proclamations declaring Sunday, April 17, as “Acme Brick Day” in their state.

Acme also received letters of congratulations from the governors of Texas and Kansas, the company said.

Acme was founded in 1891, about 30 miles west of Fort Worth. It has grown to become the largest U.S.-owned brickmaker in the world. It is now a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

Acme said it has made brick for more than 2 million homes and many thousands of commercial, civic and educational buildings.

Get in line for tacos and gas

Don’t despair, late-night taco lovers, Fuel City in Haltom City will open before year’s end.

The Dallas convenience store operator, known as much for its tasty tacos, exotic animals and weekend karaoke nights as for cheap gas, will break ground on its Haltom City store next month.

Founder John Benda said last week that he hopes to bring the bulldozers soon to the 8.3-acre lot at Haltom Road and Texas 121. He hopes to open in December, a month or so later than expected.

“We’re going to start moving dirt in May,” Benda said.

One challenge has been getting all the necessary permits and such from Haltom City. Besides those needed for signs, he had to get permits for the donkeys and longhorns that will reside on the property.

Along the way, Benda agreed to erect a “Welcome to Haltom City” sign that will include a changeable message. “I’m paying for it and I’m thrilled to do it.”

So get in line now. The tacos are coming.

New gates for Delta, United at DFW

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport opened seven newly renovated gates in Terminal E on Thursday.

The airport is still in the process of upgrading its four original terminals, spending $2.7 billion on the renovation. The latest finished gates are E11 through E17, plus baggage claims at E13 and E14 and check-in areas for Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

The renovated area has upgraded seating and tables for passengers to charge electronic devices. New concessions such as Fort Worth chef Tim Love’s Love Shack, Marshall-Rousso women’s accessories and Sonny Bryan’s smokehouse barbecue are now open for passengers in the Terminal E area.

Also opening last week was a new 1,800-space parking garage that features a parking guidance system.

“Our focus has been on delivering a superior customer experience — from easily finding a parking space with our parking guidance system to convenient check-in processing and a variety of concession options before boarding,” DFW Executive Vice President Khaled Naja said.

With the new gates opening, the airport will shut down gates E2 through E10 for renovations, including gates for United Airlines. It is the final phase of Terminal E construction and is expected to be completed in late 2017.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB

Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko