Righteous Royalty Anger: PA Town Votes to Block Gas Production

angerResidents in Wilmot Township (Bradford County), PA are mad as hell over shorted royalty checks–and they aren’t taking it anymore. Yesterday Wilmot Township’s three supervisors passed a resolution demanding, “production be discontinued from wells where landowners are having their royalty checks diminished to nothing or nearly nothing.” That is, they want to block natural gas production from existing shale wells drilled in a town smack in the middle of one of the most-drilled places in Pennsylvania. We’ve long chronicled the fight between landowners and some (certainly not all) drillers who are screwing them out of royalty payments by claiming inflated post-production costs. The issue first came to prominence with claims by landowners signed with Chesapeake Energy, who claimed Chessy had cut a sweetheart deal with its former midstream company (Access Midstream) whereby Access bumped up its charges for piping gas which Chesapeake claimed as an expense and deducted from royalty checks, and then Access turned around and invested big money into the old mothership company (see Chesapeake Shafting Landowners out of Royalties Mess Gets Messier). A group of Bradford County landowners were among the first to sue Chesapeake over the scheme (see Bradford County, PA Landowners Sue Chesapeake over Royalties). Several bills have been offered over the past few years to correct the situation by legislating that landowners get a minimum 12.5% royalty for any gas produced, regardless of post-production costs. The most recent effort, which has come the closest to passing, is House Bill (HB) 1391. However, the Marcellus industry has steadfastly lobbied against it (see PA Landowners, Drillers Fight over HB 1391 Minimum Royalty Bill). Exasperated landowners in Wilmot have had enough and have taken the symbolic (but likely unenforceable) step of telling drillers to turn off their spigots until they’re ready to conform to a 1979 PA law that guarantees landowners a 12.5% minimum royalty for oil and gas production…

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