Hydraulic Fracturing Reform Could Thwart Exxon Deal

Law360, New York (December 17, 2009, 3:27 PM EST) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. may pull out of a $41 billion deal to buy XTO Energy Inc. if U.S. lawmakers outlaw hydraulic fracturing, a controversial drilling practice under scrutiny for its possible harmful effects on groundwater.

A merger agreement filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicates that changes in the law that would make hydraulic fracturing or other similar processes illegal or “commercially impracticable” would allow Exxon to walk away from the deal.

In response to questions about the provision, Exxon spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman...
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