WVONGA Delivers ~1,000 at Rally to Support Co-Tenancy, Joint Dev.

The West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association (WVONGA) has just raised the stakes significantly in a bid to pass new “forced pooling lite” legislation. In the past six years, the oil and gas industry in WV has pushed for a forced pooling law five times. It’s failed every time. So this year the industry, represented by WVONGA, said it would not push forced pooling but instead would try to get a bill passed to address two of the issues that were previously part of a larger forced pooling bill–something called co-tenancy and joint development (see WV Won’t Push Forced Pooling, Will Push Joint Dev. & Co-Tenancy). Co-tenancy says 51% of the rights owners can vote to accept a lease for drilling. It corrects a situation in which multiple rights owners are listed for a property–and sometimes (often?) it’s difficult to track them all down and get them to sign on the dotted line. Joint development is a bit more nuanced. Currently there are a number of existing old leases, signed before shale drilling began, that prevents drillers from drilling a horizontal well across an individual property boundary line–until a new lease is signed. Joint development says if the driller already owns the leases on all adjoining properties they want to combine into a drilling unit, they can do so without signing a new lease. WVONGA says it corrects a loophole that prevents more drilling from happening. Rights owners say joint development legislation lets drillers have a freebie–instead of signing a new lease (for more money), the driller gets something never envisioned when the original lease was signed. Yesterday WVONGA bused a bunch of people (mostly oil & gas workers) from across the state to the Capitol steps in Charleston for a rally in support of new legislation to pass co-tenancy and joint development. Depending on the news source, “several hundred” or “nearly 1,000” attended the rally. It was a lot of people. One of the star speakers was newly minted Gov. Jim Justice (a Democrat who supports the industry). Justice came out in full-throated support of co-tenancy and joint development. The rally certainly seemed to have an impact on WV legislators, some of whom attended…

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