West Virginia Supreme Court Affirms Approach in Oil and Gas Title Memorandum Decision

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia recently issued a memorandum opinion interpreting a reservation of oil and gas “royalty.” The result of the Court’s holding is consistent with long standing West Virginia case law regarding oil and gas sev(…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Accepts Appeal in Case Involving Lease Abandonment by Operator

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently accepted the appeal of Mitch-Well Energy, Inc. (“Mitch-Well”) in SLT Holdings, LLC v. Mitch-Well Energy, Inc. on the issue of whether Mitch-Well effectively abandoned its leases by failing either to produce oil(…)

Co-Tenancy Bill Signed by Governor Jim Justice

On Friday, March 9, 2018, Governor Jim Justice signed West Virginia Senate  HB 4268, known as the “Cotenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act” into law, effective July 1, 2018.  As discussed in our post from last week, the passage of this leg(…)

WV Senate and House Pass Co-Tenancy Bill, Awaits Governor’s Signature

Today, the West Virginia Senate passed HB 4268, popularly known as the “co-tenancy” bill.  Formally titled as the Co-tenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act, the bill was designed to streamline the oil and gas leasing process and facilitate(…)

Pennsylvania legislature attempts to inject new life into expired oil and gas leases

On October 30, Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 74, which amended the Pennsylvania Fiscal Code. The 90-page bill included Section 1610-E, entitled “Temporary Cessation of Oil and Gas Wells,” which codified certain rights of oil and gas lessors and(…)

Ohio Supreme Court does not Recognize Implied Covenant to Further Explore

The Supreme Court of Ohio recently ruled in Alford v. Collins-McGregor Operating Company, Slip Opinion No. 2018-Ohio-8, that Ohio does not recognize an implied covenant to further explore, separate and apart from the implied covenant of reasonable dev(…)

Oil and Gas Lease Did Not Terminate for Failure to Pay Minimum Rental/Royalty Payments

On June 1, 2017, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a provision in an oil and gas lease requiring the lessee to pay a minimum rental/royalty does not automatically invoke a termination provision in an unrelated delay rental clause and is not void as ag(…)

Leggett v. EQT Production Company Case Rejects Tawney Reasoning, Opens Door for Further Challenges to Imposed System of Post-Production Cost Calculations in WV

On May 26, 2017, in a suit styled Leggett v EQT Production Company, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued majority and concurring (links to PDFs) opinions finding 4-1 that the use of the language “at the wellhead” in the Flat Rate Royalty(…)

Ohio Court Of Appeals Applies Broad Application of “Holder” Under Dormant Mineral Act

The Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh Appellate District, recently held that (i) heirs had standing to challenge a surface owners’ notice of abandonment under the Dormant Mineral Act (DMA), and (ii) an affidavit of preservation constitutes a valid cla(…)

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Affirms Trial Court’s Order To Terminate A Portion Of An Oil And Gas Lease And Eject Operator

On March 17, 2017, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a trial court’s 2015 order that severed and terminated a portion of an oil and gas lease.  The subject lease covered 240 acres located in Venango County, Pennsylvania, which was subsequent(…)

SB 576: Revised Co-Tenancy and Lease Integration Legislation Introduced in West Virginia

On March 10, 2017, Senate Bill 576 (SB 576) was introduced in the West Virginia Senate to take the place of SB 244, which addressed the oil and natural gas industry’s effort to efficiently develop production of natural resources. Similar to SB 244, SB(…)

Pennsylvania Appeals Court Vacates Denial of Class Certification of Lessors to Oil and Gas Leases in Clearfield County

On January 17, 2017, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania vacated a trial court’s order denying class certification of two classes of lessors to oil and gas leases covering property in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania in Cardinale v. R.E. Gas Dev., 2017(…)

U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Ohio Dormant Mineral Act Case

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari in Walker v. Shondrick-Nau, Exr. (Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-5793). As more fully explained in our Blog post discussing Walker, in September the Ohio Supreme Court held that, if a su(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Addresses Post-Production Costs

In Lutz et al. v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L.L.C., Slip Opinion No. 2016-Ohio-7549, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to answer the certified question submitted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio as to whether Ohio follows the “a(…)

Ohio Supreme Court Rules on Interpretation of Ohio Dormant Mineral Act

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court issued three written opinions interpreting the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act (O.R.C. §5301.56) (the “ODMA”) and decided 10 related cases based upon its decisions set forth in the written opinions. Notably, in Corban v. Chesape(…)

PA Federal Court Finds Operator Obligated to Pay Bonuses Under Surrendered Lease

On July 15, a Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found that SWEPI LP (“SWEPI”) was obligated to pay bonuses under an oil and gas lease that it had surrendered prior to a 90 day title verification period. In Masci(…)

New WV Law Regarding Decedents’ Real Estate

On May 13, 2016, West Virginia Governor Early Ray Tomblin signed into law Senate Bill No. 702 which amends §44-8-1 of the Code of West Virginia dealing with the real estate of decedents.  Under this amended law, if a decedent devises the proceeds of t(…)

Forced Pooling Bill Introduced in West Virginia

As reported by the Wheeling Intelligencer, for the fifth year out of the last six, pooling legislation has been introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates (HB 4426). A similar measure failed to pass in 2015 after a 49-49 vote on the final day(…)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Determine Standard For Constitutional Challenges Under the Environmental Rights Amendment

As reported by Law360, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will allow argument after the January decision by the Commonwealth Court in Pa. Envtl. Def. Found. v. Commonwealth, 108 A.3d 140, 45 ELR 20006, in order to determine how judges should approach gove(…)

Court Rules That Gas Lease Was Not Forfeited

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on Friday that an oil and gas lease was not forfeited by the failure of the operators to pay delay rentals. In Dewing v. Abarta Oil & Gas Co., the landowners (the “Dewings”) executed an oil and gas lease that(…)

Court Holds 1961 Dual Purpose Lease Still In Effect

In the case titled Mason v. Range Res.-Appalachia LLC (2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97471), the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania recently held that a 1961 oil and gas lease remained in effect pursuant to the terms of the(…)

West Virginia Fair Pooling Bill Making Headway in Legislature

A bill, HB2688, designed to allow oil and gas operators to create oil and gas production units without the express authority of all oil and gas owners within the unit boundary, is currently pending before the West Virginia House Judiciary Committee. (…)

New Bids Submitted to Drill Under State Lands in West Virginia

As reported by Marcellus Drilling News and the Daily Reporter, the WV Department of Commerce, which is tasked with overseeing the state’s leasing program, opened another round of bids on Friday to lease state-owned lands for oil and gas operations.  J(…)

PA Governor Tom Wolf Bans New Gas Leases For Commonwealth-Owned Lands

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf fulfilled a campaign promise by signing an executive order banning new oil and gas leases on public land owned by the Commonwealth.  This order ended the efforts of former Governor Tom Corbett to expand oil and ga(…)

American Energy Partners, LP Affiliates Combining to Streamline E&P

American Energy Partners, LP (“AEP”) announced yesterday that its affiliates, American Energy-Utica, LLC (“AEU”) and American Energy – Marcellus, LLC (“AEM”) are combining in an all-stock transaction to form American Energy Appalachian Holdings, LLC ((…)

New Director of WV Division of Natural Resources Appointed

As reported by The State Journal, Robert A. Fala has been appointed to serve as the director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (“WVDNR”), effective January 1, 2015.  Fala was appointed by WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and will replace(…)

Mountaineer Keystone LLC finalizes acquisition of PDC Mountaineer LLC

As reported by the Pittsburgh Business Times on October 15, 2014, Wexford-based Marcellus driller Mountaineer Keystone LLC has finalized its acquisition of joint-venture partner PDC Mountaineer LLC for a reported sale price of $500 million. PDC Mounta(…)

Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act Is not Applicable to Oil and Gas Leases

In a recent opinion, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed whether Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 (the “Act”), and the applicable statute of frauds contained therein, applies to oil and gas leases.  In Nolt v. TS Calkins & Asso(…)

American Energy Partners LP Acquiring WV Marcellus Acreage

The State Journal reports that American Energy – Marcellus LLC, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City based American Energy Partners LP, has agreed to acquire 48,000 leasehold acres in Doddridge, Harrison, Marion, Tyler and Wetzel Counties in West Virginia fr(…)

Allegheny County Council Approves Drilling Under Deer Lakes Park

As reported by the Pittsburgh Business Times, the Allegheny County Council voted to approve a non-surface lease and drilling plan with Range Resources under Deer Lakes Park. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said that the plan would provide f(…)

Findlay Township Approves Drill Sites At Pittsburgh International Airport

On April 23, 2014, the Findlay Township Board of Supervisors approved the conditional use application of CONSOL Energy, Inc.’s affiliate, CNX Gas Company LLC, to construct on the property of the Pittsburgh International Airport 6 well pads, up to 60 u(…)

Natural Gas “Forced Pooling” Bill Currently Pending in the West Virginia Legislature

As reported in The Wheeling Intelligencer, the West Virginia Legislature continues to consider H.B. 4558 and S.B. 578, which would allow oil and gas producers to create production units through “Forced Pooling.”  If passed, such a law would allow natu(…)

Dominion Begins Talks to Farm Out 100,000 Acres in West Virginia

Platts.com reports that Dominion has begun talks regarding farming out 100,000 acres in West Virginia in the Marcellus Shale located near Dominion’s gas storage assets near the Ohio and Pennsylvania borders.  Thomas Farrell, CEO of Dominion, indicated(…)

Fourth Circuit Upholds Chesapeake Ruling Regarding Waste Pits

On September 4, 2013, in the case of Whiteman v. Chesapeake Appalachia, L. L. C. (2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 18359 (4th Cir. W. va. 2013)), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a District Court ruling from the Northern District o(…)

Superior Court Upholds Right Of Operator To Construct An Impoundment And To Utilize Hydraulic Fracturing Under Terms Of Lease

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania upheld the trial court’s decision in Humberston v. Chevron U.S.A. to grant preliminary objections in favor of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. and Keystone Vacuum, Inc., holding that Chevron and Keysone had the right under the o(…)

Indefinite Moratorium Leads To Termination Of Leases In Northeastern Pennsylvania

Hess Corporation and Newfield Exploration Company recently terminated lease agreements with about 1,300 property owners in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, where the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has imposed a moratorium on gas drilling since May(…)

West Virginia’s Highest Court Defines “Surface” for Conveyance Instruments

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, West Virginia’s highest court, recently overruled a point in the 1923 case of Ramage v. South Penn Oil Co. (W. Va.), which established that the term “surface” was presumptively ambiguous and always subject t(…)

Court Clarifies What Constitutes "Commencement Of Drilling"

Last week, in Good Will Hunting Club, Inc. v. Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that a landowner (Good Will) was bound by a five-year extension clause in an oil and gas lease that it(…)

W.Va. Couple Lose Battle to Cancel Oil and Gas Lease in 4th Circuit Appeal

On May 7th the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the arguments of Martha and Charles Wellman and upheld the validity of a “legacy” oil and gas lease.  The lease provided for royalty payments on production and a flat-rate rental payment.  The mi(…)

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Delivers Butler v. Powers Opinion

On April 24, 2013, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion in the case of Butler v. Powers, addressing the distinction between the words “gas” and “minerals” in private conveyances of land in Pennsylvania.  The case began as a quiet title(…)

West Virginia Federal Court Upholds Oil & Gas Lease Terms

On February 8, 2013, federal District Court Judge John Preston Bailey struck down a lawsuit attempting to void an oil and gas lease agreement.  The lessors argued that the lease should be voided based upon an inconsistency in the “commencement” date i(…)