Was PA Court Decision Really an OK for Forced Pooling?

Sometimes language is a funny thing. Terms come into use and and thrown around–but in different contexts they mean different things. MDN recently noticed that earlier this month EQT won a lawsuit against landowners in Allengheny County, PA. The landowners had leased their land with EQT, but we’re guessing they were old leases, done some number of years ago, because the landowners said EQT could not drill under their properties collectively–in a drilling unit. Apparently the landowners wanted EQT to drill on each individual property–or perhaps (more likely) renegotiate the old leases for better money to allow horizontal shale drilling. Bear in mind EQT and the landowners–all of them–already have contractual leases.

EQT sued (EQT Production Co. v. Opatkiewicz et al.) to “force” the landowners to allow them to do their job–drill horizontally under several properties as part of a drilling unit. The court ruled in favor of EQT (copy of the decision is embedded below) saying the landowners can’t stipulate how EQT gets the gas from leased contiguous properties. That is our essential understanding of the case. However, it’s widely being reported that the court “supported forced pooling”…

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