A pension fund that owns shares of Continental Resources has alleged in a lawsuit that a nearly $100 million investment by Continental in a pipeline project will benefit chief executive Harold Hamm at the shareholders’ expense.
Hamm’s company, Hiland Partners, is receiving partial funding from Continental for the $300 million Double H crude oil pipeline project.
Hiland is constructing the 450-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Wyoming. It will have a daily capacity of up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Pennsylvania Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund filed the lawsuit against Hamm, six of Continental’s directors, and Hiland entities.
The suit in Oklahoma state court seeks damages and the return of profits and other benefits derived from the pipeline transaction to the company.
“A Reuters’ analysis of Continental’s U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings since 1996 shows the investment in Double H is one of many contracts Continental has entered with other Hamm-owned energy and logistics firms. The total value of the contracts exceeds $550 million,” according to the report.
Last year Continental committed to pay $95.8 million for a five-year option to ship 10,000 barrels per day on the Double H pipeline.
Continental told Reuters the lawsuit has no merit.
Double H was “fully and adequately reviewed by the full Board’s disinterested and independent directors,” Continental’s General Counsel Eric Eissenstat said in an email. They “expressly found it to be in the best interests of the company” as pipeline infrastructure in and around North Dakota catches up with booming oil production there.
Continental’s shares have risen more than sevenfold since its 2007 initial public offering, Reuters said. “Hamm transformed Continental into a leading driller in North Dakota, where a boom in Bakken production has helped push U.S. oil output to near 25-year highs.”
Hamm helped discover North Dakota’s Bakken shale when he was a wildcatter.
“He now owns more oil in the ground than any other American through his 68 percent stake in Continental worth more than $13 billion,” Reuters said, citing industry experts.
Forbes ranked Hamm 33rd on its list of the 400 richest Americans.