PA Court Says Snyder Bros Wells are Strippers, No Impact Fees Due

In 2014 MDN brought you the interesting story of strippers in the Marcellus–stripper wells, that is (see High-Priced Strippers in PA: Semantic Gymnastics with Impact Fee). Synder Brothers is an oil/gas producer in Pennsylvania. Most of the wells they drill are vertical-only wells. Among them are 24 wells from 2011 and 21 wells from 2012 that are vertical only–but all targeting the Marcellus. According to the definition of a stripper well under the Act 13 law passed in 2012, a well qualifies as a stripper well if it doesn’t produce over 90 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of natural gas per day for at least one month. Synder Bros. says although their wells may have produced over 90 Mcf in some months, they didn’t produce that much in at least one month during the years in question. Ergo, their wells qualify as stripper wells and not liable to pay an impact fee. The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC), charged with evaluating what does and does not qualify, said nope–your wells target the Marcellus formation and produced above 90 Mcf for “at least” one month out of the year, therefore must pay the impact fee. So the PUC sued Snyder Bros., intending to collect $500,000 in unpaid fees PLUS a $50,000 fine for inconveniencing the PUC (see PA PUC Sues Snyder Bros to Collect $500K in Unpaid Impact Fees). In January of this year, more than a year after first hearing the case, PA Commonwealth Court wanted to hear it all over again (see High-Priced PA Strippers Go Back to Court, Impact Fee Semantics). The court has finally ruled: the law clearly means if production is less than 90 Mcf in any single month, that well is a stripper. Snyder Bros. doesn’t have to pay the $500K impact fee on those wells…

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