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Williams Reaches Partial Settlement with Utes

Williams Reaches Partial Settlement with Utes

As a precursor to an expected mid-April Supreme Court decision on the Southern Ute Indian Tribe vs. BP Amoco rights and royalty case, the Williams Cos., one of the defendants represented by BP Amoco, announced a partial settlement with the Southern Ute tribe Thursday. The settlement released the Williams subsidiary involved in the trial, Williams Production Co., from all claims included in the lawsuit, but did not address key ownership issues.

Details of the agreement are still being negotiated. The deal still must be approved by the U.S. District Court.

Under the proposed terms, Williams Production will convert the interest accrued from the profits associated with the disputed leases into a working interest. A portion of this interest will then be given to the Southern Ute tribe effective Jan. 1, 1999.

Ownership of the gas produced from the 200,000 acres is a question the Supreme Court will answer by mid-1999, Williams said. The case went to the high court in January, after BP Amoco appealed a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that gave the tribe ownership of the gas (See Daily GPI, Jan. 25). Along with Williams, BP Amoco represents a group of other oil companies and 3,000 royalty owners. Williams said none of the royalty owners have settled any of the tribe's claims.

Williams was unavailable for further comment due to a court gag-order.

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