WV Supreme Court Post-Production Royalty Case Hinges on 3 Words

Yesterday the five justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court reheard a case involving post-production deductions from royalty payments. Last week we reported that the court *might* rehear the case this week–if they didn’t grant a late-breaking motion to dismiss the rehearing (see WV Supreme Court to Rehear EQT Post Production Royalty Case, Maybe). In December MDN reported on the huge West Virginia Supreme Court decision against driller EQT that disallows EQT from deducting post-production expenses from royalty checks, even with signed contracts in place (see WV Supreme Court Rules EQT Can’t Deduct P-P Costs from Royalties). The justices, in their ruling, said that drillers can “not deduct from that (royalty) amount any expenses that have been incurred in gathering, transporting or treating the oil or gas after it has been initially extracted, any sums attributable to a loss or beneficial use of volume beyond that initially measured or any other costs that may be characterized as post-production.” A really big deal. Then in February, with a brand new justice on the bench, the WV Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case after an appeal filed by EQT–a rare and unusual step (see EQT Catches Big Break in WV Supreme Court re Royalty Deductions). Those who won the case say newly elected Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth D. Walker has conflicts of interest and should not have been allowed to vote to rehear the case in the first place (which she did). On that basis, they tried to avoid the rehearing altogether, but that failed, and yesterday the lawyers were in court arguing. As it turns out, the lawyers mainly argued over the meaning of three short words: “at the wellhead”…

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