WV Legislators Consider Forced Pooling for Marcellus Shale Landowners

The West Virginia legislature is considering a couple of bills that deal with rules for Marcellus shale gas development in the state. One of those bills contains a provision for forced pooling, a hot-button issue to be sure among landowners and mineral rights owners. The WV legislature may adopt a pooling provision that is used in the state currently for coalbed methane drilling.

Barry Lay of the state’s Oil & Gas Conservation Commission explained the concept of forced pooling that’s now applied to coalbed methane drilling. Lay was among several speakers at the latest in a series of public hearings held by the House Judiciary and Finance committees on the Marcellus topic.

Pooling occurs when multiple property owners have rights to the same tract of a natural resource, but not all of them agree to develop that resource. Under the coalbed methane program, the unwilling owners can be compelled to lease their interest, Lay said. The commission determines the compensation for all the owners involved, Lay said. As an alternative, the owners can develop a working interest, investing in the operation in exchange for a share of the profits, he said.

Benefits of forced pooling include limiting the number of wells on the surface, and allowing the development of the natural resource, Lay said.*

Seems to MDN that a landowner (or mineral rights owner) should be able to determine whether or not they want their plot of ground developed or not. And to the extent that surface rights owners are involved, their interests need to be considered as well. What do you think about forced pooling? Leave a comment below.

*The Register-Herald (Feb 10) – Lawmakers continue to study gas reserve