By Alabama Associated Press

The retrial of the state's natural gas royalty dispute with Exxon Mobil began Monday in Montgomery, and the state is again asking for a multi-billion-dollar verdict.

The first trial in 2000 resulted in a three-point-five billion dollar verdict that was the largest ever returned by an Alabama jury, but it was overturned on appeal. In opening arguments Monday, State Attorney Robert Cunningham told the jury that Exxon Mobil has cheated the state out of more than 100 million dollars in natural gas royalties and it should be punished with a severe judgment in the billions.

Exxon Mobil attorney Sam Franklin says the oil company has been a good corporate citizen that has invested more than two billion dollars in developing natural gas reserves along the Alabama coast. He says Exxon Mobil has abided by its leases with the state and has done nothing wrong. The trial is expected to last three weeks.