Two oil and gas drillers, along with an oil and gas investor, have sued a third driller with which they had partnered for natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale, alleging the company overbilled two joint accounts, one by more than $2 million and the other by more than $630,000, and then failed to fully reimburse the money.

The suit was removed from the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Friday.

In Oil & Gas Management v. Burnett Oil, according to the complaint, plaintiff drillers Oil & Gas Management — referred to as “OGM” in the complaint — and Penneco Oil, along with Samuel R. Shrader, an oil and gas investor, entered into a contractual relationship with defendant Burnett Oil — referred to as “BOCI” in the complaint — to do work on 33,820 acres of leased Marcellus Shale land in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.

The plaintiffs said in the complaint that because the Marcellus Shale requires horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing and they only have experience drilling conventional vertical wells, they decided to contract with experienced unconventional well drillers Burnett Oil — a general partnership that is separate from but related to BOCI and is referred to in the complaint as “Burnett” — and Sonic Oil & Gas, neither of which are parties to the case.

In January 2010, according to the complaint, OGM, Burnett and Sonic entered into a joint operating agreement as “non-operators” with BOCI as the “operator.”

Under the agreement, the plaintiffs have the right, but not the obligation, to participate for up to 20 percent, but not less than 5 percent, of the working interest in the wells drilled by Burnett, the complaint said.

OGM exercised its participation rights for two wells called “OGM Well No. 1″ and “OGM Well No. 2,” as well as for the Shoaf 3D Seismic Acquisition, according to the complaint.

Around the same time, OGM and the other plaintiffs, along with Burnett and Sonic, entered into a joint operating agreement as non-operators with BOCI as the operator.

The plaintiffs exercised their participation rights for two wells known as the “Coastal #1/Coastal #1H” and “Coastal/Smith #1H” wells along with the West Summit Field 3D Seismic Acquisition, the complaint said.

Under the joint operating agreements, BOCI, as the operator, was required to pay the expenses incurred in drilling those areas and charge each of the other parties, as non-operators, for their respective shares of the cost, according to the complaint.

The joint operating agreements also provided that a non-operator had the right to audit BOCI’s accounts and records relating to the joint account, the complaint said.

In April 2011, according to the complaint, OGM sent a written request to BOCI for an audit of the defendant’s accounts and records, according to the complaint.

OGM conducted the audit of BOCI’s accounts and records related to the Shoaf AMI joint operating agreement from January 2009 through May 2011 and determined that BOCI had improperly overcharged the Shoaf AMI joint account by about $2.2 million, the complaint said.

Because of OGM’s 20 percent working interest in OGM Well No. 1 and OGM Well No. 2, as well as the Shoaf 3D Seismic Acquisition, roughly $440,000 of that was improperly charged to OGM’s Shoaf AMI joint account, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges BOCI only reimbursed the Shoaf AMI joint account for about $125,000, approximately $25,000 of which went to OGM.

At the same time, OGM and the other plaintiffs had also conducted an audit of BOCI’s accounts and records related to the West Summit Field AMI joint operating agreement from January 2009 through May 2011 and determined that BOCI overbilled that joint account for about $632,000, the complaint said.

Because the plaintiffs collectively hold a 20 percent interest in the Coastal #1/Coastal #1H and Coastal/Smith #1H wells along with the West Summit Field 3D Seismic Acquisition, about $126,000 was improperly charged to their West Summit Field AMI joint account, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges BOCI only reimbursed the West Summit Field AMI joint account for about $280,000, only about $56,000 of which went to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs are asserting breach of contract claims as well as claims for unjust enrichment and are seeking an order requiring BOCI to reimburse the remaining approximately $482,000 to their accounts, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an order requiring BOCI to pay attorney fees and costs as well as to provide a full accounting of its books and records related to the Shoaf AMI and West Summit Field AMI joint accounts, the complaint said.

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Daniel B. McLane of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin & Mellott in Pittsburgh, could not be reached for comment at press time.

BOCI’s attorney, Kevin C. Abbott of Reed Smith in Pittsburgh, declined to comment on the suit.

Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or zneedles@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.