March 10, 2008
Reminder: Doddridge County Meeting Saturday, March 15
Who: WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization (WV-SORO)
What: A regional and information meeting to discuss surface owners’ rights and what needs to be done to protect property owners from abuses by oil & gas drillers.
When: Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 6:00pm
Where: Doddridge County Park, Snowbird Road, Smithburg, WV (near West Union)
>From Parkersburg - Take Rt. 50 East toward Clarksburg. Continue on Rt. 50 East to Smithburg (directly past the West Union exit). Also past the Doddridge Co. Middle School. Turn right at Snowbird Road. There should be a sign directing you to the park. It's about 1 mile. The drive from Charleston is about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
From Clarksburg - Take Rt. 50 West to Smithburg at Snowbird Road. Turn left on Snowbird Road and go about 1 mile to the park.
For more information contact:
Gary Zuckett (304)-346-5891 or David McMahon (304)-415-4288 (in Charleston)
Sharon Marshok (304)-623-1245 or Nancy Powers (304)-623-0482
Surface Owners' Bill of Rights Recommended for Interim Study
We indicated in our last update that the Surface Owners’ Bill of Rights would likely be slated for interim study. The Senate Energy, Industry & Mining Committee and the House Industry & Labor Committee put forth resolutions (SCR 57 & HCR 77) urging the legislature “to study the existing law and regulation of oil and gas drilling by the State of West Virginia and whether the law should be updated or otherwise changed to improve protection of the public interest and the varying interests of surface owners” as well as “the feasibility of requiring free, wholesale or retail gas for surface owners upon whose land well sites and access roads are or have been placed.” The Senate resolution further recommended studying “other general changes in the law regarding the exploration for, drilling for and production of oil and gas, including coal bed methane gas.” Unfortunately, the resolutions were not adopted but we still have a good chance of getting the interim study. Both committee chairs want the bill to be taken up for study during the interim sessions and, although the House leadership decided not to put HCR 77 up for a vote, House Speaker Richard Thompson gave us a verbal commitment to looking at the issue. Other legislators are also on record saying the issue is will be studied prior to next year’s legislative session. We'll keep you posted.
WV Supreme Court to Hear Arguments in Dispute Over Spacing for Marcellus Formation Wells
The latest “play” in the oil and gas industry is to the Marcellus formation. There is currently a dispute between the state’s coal and natural gas industries over whether wells drilled in the Marcellus formation are “shallow" or “deep” wells. The dispute is now before the WV Supreme Court which will hear arguments in the case on Wednesday, March 12, 2008. The State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has ruled that Marcellus wells are “deep” wells, however some drillers who do not want these wells to classified as “deep” have appealed the Commission’s decision.
WV-SORO favors the Marcellus formation wells being classified as “deep” wells because drillers can only be forced to do well spacing if the well is a “deep” well. “Deep” wells also require drillers to get written consent from the surface owner prior to drilling, although this is not always enforced.
WV SORO has filed a "friend of the court brief" in the Supreme Court case. Click here to read more about the dispute. You may also want to check out our slide show on well spacing and royalty sharing, explaining what it is and why it is needed in West Virginia, and why the legislature hasn't required well spacing and royalty sharing in West Virginia.
If you would like to hear the arguments before the court on Wednesday you may do so by listening over the call-in line (304-558-1313) or by watching and listening via a live webcast. Click here for details about accessing the webcast. The public may also attend arguments in person. Click here for directions. Proceedings begin at 10:00 am. There is a six item "Motion Docket", and then the Marcellus case will be first on the "Argument Docket".