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ConocoPhillips unit will pay $97.5 million to settle royalty suit

Burlington Resources, a subsidiary of ConocoPhillips, has agreed to pay $97.5 million to settle a whistleblower’s claims that it underpaid royalties owed for natural gas produced on federal and Indian lands over a 17-year period.

The settlement resolves allegations under the False Claims Act that Burlington systematically under-reported the value of natural gas that it produced and paid less royalties than it owed to the United States and various Indian tribes.

The settlement with Burlington arose from a lawsuit filed by a private whistleblower under the False Claims Act, which alleged that a number of companies systematically underpaid royalties due for their federal and Indian natural gas production. The Justice Department partially intervened against several defendants in the lawsuit, and previously settled with Shell Oil Co. for $56 million and Dominion Exploration and Production Co. for $2 million. The Department is continuing to pursue claims against Exxon-Mobil Corp.

A Dept. of Justice press release was issued on August 15, 2007.

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