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El Paso Agrees to Pay $30M to Settle Royalty Claims

El Paso Corp. has agreed to pay $30 million to settle claims that it allegedly underpaid royalties for production from natural gas wells in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, according to the company's annual 10-K report that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last Tuesday.

In January, the Houston-based energy company and Burlington Resources Inc. reached an agreement to settle the claims in three class-action lawsuits that were brought in 1997 and 2003 in the District Court of Washita County, OK, alleging royalty underpayments. The settlement is subject to the court's approval, following a fairness hearing that is expected to be held in the spring, El Paso said.

El Paso asked a Harris County, TX, court to settle the indemnity issues between it and Burlington Resources with respect to the royalty underpayments. The dispute was resolved last November, and is subject to the court approving the settlement.

Upon final court approval, El Paso said it will contribute $30 million to resolve the royalty claims. It was not immediately known how much Burlington has agreed to pay.

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