By The Associated Press

The development of the state government's natural gas royalty dispute with Exxon Mobil:

1981 - Exxon wins the bidding process for seven tracts in state-owned waters along the Alabama coast and pays the state $256 million for leases.

1984 - Exxon wins the bidding for 15 more tracts and pays the state $336 million for leases.

1990 - Exxon begins drilling along the Alabama coast.

1993 - Exxon begins production from wells along the coast.

1996 - The state conservation department audits Exxon to see if it is paying the state the correct amount of royalties from 13 successful wells.

1997 - The state conservation department says Exxon isn't paying enough and demands more money. Exxon refuses.

1999 - State files suit accusing Exxon of fraud. Exxon and Mobil merge.

2000 - Montgomery jury returns a record $3.5 billion verdict against Exxon Mobil.

2002 - Alabama Supreme Court reverses the verdict because the jury was permitted to see an Exxon Mobil internal legal memo.

2003 - Retrial begins in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

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