From Al Tuttle
To the Editor
Once again our West Virginia Legislature is attempting to pass a bill, (HB 2688), that would use eminent domain (a.k.a. forced pooling) to take personal property (oil and gas mineral rights) and pass it to a private company for its profit. Integrated leases, unitization of drilling interests, or whatever candied words they try to use, it is still the state using eminent domain to take private property for the profit of another.
Pooling regulations were developed in a time of vertical wells, before horizontal drilling and fracking was known. At that time, vertical wells were drilled into formations where the gas and oil would actually flow. Under old common law of “Right of Capture,” a driller could sink a vertical well on one property, and then proceed to suck the oil and gas from under neighboring tracts. The driller did not have to compensate these neighbors. Pooling prevented the taking of the minerals without compensation. The “tight” oil and gas in the shallow and deep shale formations (Marcellus, Utica) is an entirely different situation. The oil and gas won’t flow and formations are relatively thin. Vertical wells are not economical. Thus, the oil and gas industry must buy or lease your minerals and then use horizontal drilling to physically go under you and frack to get your minerals.
But this legislation turns pooling on its head. Pooling that originally protected your mineral rights is now being used to force you to sell/lease your minerals under terms and conditions that you may not find agreeable.
Furthermore, how can good faith negotiations proceed when the companies are provided an out? They can force conditions upon you that any lawyer would remove from a lease to protect your interests and deny other conditions he/she would insert to further protect you.
If you agree, call your West Virginia Legislators and urge them to oppose HB 2688. It is about protection of our property rights and protection of our very way of life.