WV SORO Update Archive

February 24, 2009

WV-SORO Founder on Talkline Tomorrow Thursday Feb 26 at 10AM

Just a quick heads up.  WV Surface Owners' Rights Organization Founder Dave McMahon will be on the statewide call-in show Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval at 10AM tomorrow. An industry representative will also be on the show.  If you get a chance, tune in, listen and consider calling in to voice your support for the Surface Owners' Bill of Rights.  You can call in toll free 1-800-765-8255.  Click here to find a station in your area. 

The Surface Owners' Bill of Rights should be introduced this week and we'll send another update with bill numbers, sponsors,  and committee assignments.  In the meantime, please listen in tomorrow and support Dave. If you call in the "Myths & Facts" below will help you respond to the industry's arguments. 


Norm Steenstra
WV SORO Organizer

Industry Myths Debunked: Facts About the Surface Owners' Bill of Rights

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “The sky is falling.”

FACT:    •Chicken little was wrong, and so are the drillers. The bill does not stop or significantly delay well drilling, or make drilling significantly more expensive, or affect mineral owners.

IT’S A MYTH: Drillers say, “The bill contains extreme provisions.”

FACTS:    •New Mexico has passed very similar legislation requiring a surface use and compensation agreement or single well bonding.
                  •Oklahoma has had similar legislation since 1982. 
                  •At least 5 other states require compensation at market value for land used by the driller.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “The bill will reduce the drilling of wells – affecting jobs and tax revenues.”

FACT:        •Nothing in the bill prevents the drilling of a well – such a provision would be unconstitutional.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “Provisions in the bill will make it so expensive to drill wells that fewer will be drilled.”

FACTS:    •It costs from $250,000.00 to $3,000,000.00 or more to drill an oil or gas well. 
                  •Giving the surface owner a little time to negotiate for his existing “fairly necessary” rights with the driller will not cost a driller more – unless, that is, the driller was planning saving money by short-cutting the surface owner’s existing fairly necessary rights.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “Provisions in the bill will cause unbearable delays in drilling.”

FACTS:    •If the driller and surface owner reach an agreement, drilling can begin almost immediately.
                 •Once drilled a gas well will be there for decades – or a century.
                 •If the driller does not plan ahead, 60 days is the most added time that the bill could cause.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “The surface owner will have no incentive to sign an agreement with the driller.”

FACTS:    •Surface owners want a say in where roads and sites are located, and what kind of grasses are used to reclaim, whether there will be fences around well sites, and so on.
                 •Surface owners know that the only alternative to coming to an agreement is to hire a lawyer now, or maybe go to arbitration later – not a realistic alternative for most citizens.
                 •The current post-drilling arbitration provisions are almost never used, and by then the damage has been done.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “The bill will harm the interests mineral/royalty owners.”

FACTS:    •The bill does not stop or delay drilling.
                  •The bill adds no costs that are deductible from the royalty.
                 •Mineral/royalty owners’ gripes are against drillers.   It is the drillers who get them to sign leases with big bonus and then back out; who rush them into signing unfair leases and then do not pay the full 1/8 royalty; who hold large leased tracts with one small low producing well; and who drill wells close to property lines to legally steal gas our from under neighboring mineral owners without paying for it; and more.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “Well sites cannot be moved to accommodate surface owner home sites etc.”

FACT:    •In West Virginia, most oil and gas is found in “stratigraphic” traps and not “structural” traps.  Moving an oil or gas well a few hundred feet will make very little difference in whether a well hits oil or gas, but a tremendous difference to a surface owner who wants to protect a home site.

IT’S A MYTH:   Drillers say, “Requiring the driller to sell the surface owner residential gas at cost makes the driller into a public utility,” and “It’s too much trouble and too much liability for the driller.”

FACTS:       •The Public Service Commission has rules for when it can declare a natural gas provider a public utility.  The bill contains an exemption from the PSC rule  requirement for these wells.
                    •The bill contains a liability waiver for the driller.
                    •The driller does so much that is inconvenient to the surface owner’s land during drilling, and leaves behind a well and access road that will be there for decades.  It is not too much to ask to let the surface owner pay for some gas.

IT’S A MYTH:  Drillers say, “All we need is enforcement of existing statutes.”

FACTS:    •There are no existing statutes that encourage compliance with, let alone enforce, the surface owners “fairly necessary” rights.  There is only a statute that gives the surface owner 15 days to submit written comments on how the road and site are built  after the driller has chosen the road and well site, and not on where the road and site will be located before the permit is filed.

West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization
1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, West Virginia 25311