PA Senate Slips Anti-Landowner Measure into State Budget Bill

Not only did the Pennsylvania Senate pull a real boner by voting for a severance tax and gross receipts tax (see Traitorous PA Senate Republicans Pass Severance Tax Bill), they also slipped another provision in the PA budget bill that, until now, has gone unnoticed. This new provision has big implications for both landowners and drillers. The Senate slipped in Section 1610 (see the language below) which changes established lease law with respect to oil and gas wells that no longer produce anything. Under existing law, when an oil or gas well stops producing–and the landowner quits getting royalty checks–the lease is considered terminated. Done. Finished. Under Section 1610, drillers can resurrect those dead leases under a couple of conditions. If the landowner doesn’t officially state “your lease is now dead since you’re not producing anything” a driller quick-like-a-bunny restarts production at the well and sends the landowner a check, it would re-start (or continue) the existing lease with its existing terms. Or if the driller sends a notice to the landowner stating its intention to drill a new well on the property, and if the landowner doesn’t object (given a 3-month time limit), the driller is free to begin drilling a NEW well, under the OLD lease terms. Section 1610 really stinks, in our humble opinion. It means a driller can drill a new shale well after an old conventional/vertical well quits producing–without having to sign a new lease or pay a new bonus or negotiate a new royalty rate. Doesn’t seem right to us!…

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