WV Co-Tenancy, Royalty Transparency Bills Make Progress

As predicated, a co-tenancy bill has been introduced in this year’s 60-day session of the West Virginia legislature (see Co-Tenancy Front and Center for WV Legislature as Session Nears). What is co-tenancy? It is legislation that will give a majority of rights owners of a property the authority to sign a lease on behalf of all the rights owners. It corrects a situation in which multiple rights owners are listed for a property–sometimes 200 or more rights owners for a single piece of property! It is often difficult, if not impossible, to track them all down and get them to sign on the dotted line. Co-tenancy corrects that situation, opening up more Marcellus and Utica acreage that can be drilled. Last Thursday a co-tenancy bill was introduced in the House Energy Committee–House Bill (HB) 4268–which should see an initial vote this week. Various groups are lobbying for and against the bill. The WV Surface Owners Rights Organization is pushing for two amendments, without which they won’t support the bill. Although co-tenancy is a major emphasis for Marcellus/Utica drillers, a different bill is a major emphasis for landowners–a bill to provide greater transparency of royalty statements (more information provided on statements). House Bill (HB) 4270 already passed in a vote by the House Energy Committee last week. It still has to pass muster with the House Judiciary Committee, but the bill seems to be off to a fast start. Here’s a rundown on these two important bills, with copies of the bills as introduced, with background on the backroom wheeling and dealing over the co-tenancy bill…

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