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Drillers cancel lease with Pennsylvania landowners

Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press

Two energy companies are pulling out of northeastern Pennsylvania, where a long-standing moratorium on gas drilling has infuriated landowners who say the ban has cost them big bucks.

The Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance represents more than 1,300 families and businesses that signed a lease with Hess Corp. and Newfield Exploration Co.

The landowners' group said Monday that Hess and Newfield have terminated the lease, and the pullout will cost its members more than $187 million in lease bonus payments.

A Hess spokesman declined comment. A Newfield spokesman says the company's focus now is on oil, not gas.

The Delaware River Basin Commission imposed a moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling in the Delaware watershed in 2010. The property owners' group is threatening to sue the agency over the ban.