PA Rep. Ortitay Intros Watered-Down Minimum Royalty Bill

Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Ortitay, Republican from South Fayette (Washington & Allegheny Counties), PA who replaced Jesse White in January 2015 (see Pro-Driller Ortitay Replaces Anti-Driller White in PA House) has introduced a new bill in the PA House to bridge the gap between landowners who want a guaranteed minimum royalty of 12.5% regardless of post-production costs, and drillers who adamantly oppose a guaranteed minimum royalty. Rep. Garth Everett, Republican from Lycoming County, has been the champion of landowners and their quest to stop what they see as an abuse of the contracts they signed by implementing a state-mandated 12.5% minimum royalty–even if post-production costs eat into it (see PA Rep. Garth Everett Reintroduces Minimum Royalty Bill, 3rd Time). Landowners and groups representing them, like the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO), point to abuses by companies like Chesapeake Energy and claim some drillers cook up deals with pipeline/processing companies to overcharge, deducting it from royalty checks, and then getting the money back from those pipeline companies via investments. Kind of a kick-back scheme. Drillers maintain you can’t upend legal contracts in response to one or two rotten apples in the barrel. Ortitay believes he can navigate the middle ground, proposing a bill that will require drillers to itemize the deductions made from royalty checks, and prevent drillers from sending landowners a bill, which is beyond-words offensive. Can you imagine any landowner signing a lease that requires the landowner to pay the driller when prices go low? It’s ludicrous, and Ortitay’s bill, House Bill (HB) 1708 aims to fix it…

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