Half a dozen drilling companies have agreed to pay $15 million to the federal government over allegations that they underpaid royalties on natural gas produced from leased federal and Indian land.

The Justice Department says the companies improperly deducted from royalty values the cost of boosting gas up to pipeline pressures and that they improperly reported processed gas as unprocessed gas to reduce royalty payments.

The companies are Total Fina S.A., Total Minatome Corporation, Total Exploration Production USA Inc., Fina Oil and Chemical Company, Elf Exploration Inc., Total E&P USA Inc.

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