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  • Tim Greene

Joint Development and Oil and Gas Industry strategies

While I really do understand the oil and gas industries need to pursue common sense legislation, I don't understand why it is typically harmful to mineral and/or surface owners. Joint Development legislation, currently being considered by our state legislature, as I understand it, will deny West Virginia's mineral owners with older gas leases access to enhanced leasing opportunities.

Minerals owners already have to live with old gas leases, many that NEVER end. Now the Oil and Gas Industry wants to take away what may be a Mineral Owner’s only opportunity to enhance a gas lease that in the year 2017 is outdated, unfair and one-sided.

It is my understanding that some local judges have agreed with this strategy and have opened the door to the concept allowing pooling in an old lease when the lease is silent on the issue. Strangely enough many older gas leases are silent on pooling.

I understand that there are unreasonable Landowners but the vast majority of Mineral and Surface Owners just want an honest and open relationship when negotiating a Gas Lease or Pipeline Agreement and while the Gas Industry is utilizing their Surface or Mineral Assets.

Is it any wonder that landowners are skeptical every time they are approached by the industry representatives? Landowners are consistently threatened and told things that are less than accurate. They are told they will lose the offer if not signed, they are told they will just be Forced Pooled anyway, when there is no forced pooling in West Virginia (for shallow wells) or the old standby, “You are the last one to sign, all your neighbors have signed”. Sad to say, Mineral and Surface Owners face intimidation tactics during the many interactions they may experience with the Gas Industry representatives.

The Industry consistently shuts the mineral and surface owners out after the agreements are signed. Gas companies try to shut out the landowner from obtaining any information or at least make it as difficult as possible to get the information. They hold back payments of royalties by having their attorneys use anything they can to put up roadblocks which may require the landowners to hire attorneys (and pay needless thousands of dollars) just to get the Royalty Payments agreed to in the lease.

While I am a supporter of the Gas Industry and encourage drilling of wells and the installation of pipelines, I believe the answer is surprisingly simple for the Gas Industry. Pay a market rate of the value of the surface or mineral asset , be transparent and open with the owners by sharing information and truthfulness and build a relationship that will last into the next generation because as we all should know by now, if a well is drilled they are going to be there a while.

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