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District Court Delays Submission of Reasonable Surface Use Issue to WVSCA

Last month District Court Judge Irene Keeley, sitting in the Northern District of West Virginia, sought to have the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (WVSCA) rule upon whether West Virginia law permits a natural gas producer to use a surface owner’s property to sink horizontal wells that draw gas from neighboring tracts.  The decision in this case will have far reaching economic consequences in West Virginia.  Now, the Court is slowing down the process through which the WVSCA may decide the novel issue.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Judge Keeley has requested the record be supplemented with additional facts before the question is submitted to West Virginia’s highest court.  Under this second order, it is unclear when the WVSCA may be called upon to determine this drilling issue.