An energy company has agreed to pay a $5 million fine and plead no contest to a misdemeanor anti-trust charge as part of a plea deal. Under the bargain, Encana Oil & Gas USA also promised to help the state pursue legal action against another oil company.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office announced the deal as the legal proceedings were ready to launch in a Cheboygan courtroom. The deal with Encana requires the company to help the state in its anti-trust case against the Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The two companies are alleged to have conspired in 2010 to keep oil and gas lease prices artificially low by not bidding against each other in public auctions
“Allegations of bid-rigging are taken seriously, and today’s settlement with Encana is a good result for taxpayers,” Schuette said in a written statement.
Chesapeake continues to fight the charges. The two companies were the biggest land leasers during a brief oil boom in Michigan in 2010. If Encana lives up to its end of the bargain, the state will drop other criminal charges at a sentencing hearing in 11 months.