- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Union Oil Co of California (Unocal) yesterday agreed to pay $21.5 million to settle claims that the company underpaid royalties due for oil produced on federal and Indian leases between 1980 and 1998, the Justice Department said.
According to terms of the agreement, Unocal will pay about $20.7 million in cash and will cancel claims for refunds of overpayments of $742,518 due from the United States.
Justice Department officials noted that federal leases are administered by the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department. Each month, oil companies are required to report the amount of oil produced and the value of the oil produced on federal and Indian leases. The officials said the companies then pay royalties based upon the value of the oil they report.
J. Benjamin Johnson Jr. and John Martinek filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Lufkin, Texas, against Unocal on behalf of the United States under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. Department officials said the two will share in the proceeds of the settlement.
Including yesterday's agreement with Unocal, the Justice Department has reached settlements of nearly $440 million to resolve claims of underpayment of oil royalties.
Previously, the department reached agreements with Mobil Oil for $45 million; Oxy USA Inc., $7.3 million; Chevron, $95 million; Conoco, $26 million; BP Amoco, $32 million; Texaco, $43 million; Pennzoil, $11.9 million; UPRC, $2.7 million; Sun Oil Co., $200,000; Kerr-McGee, $13 million; Exxon, $7 million; Shell, $110 million; Burlington Resources, $8.5 million; Marathon, $7.7 million; and Phillips, $8 million.


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