PA Commonwealth Court Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive

In December 2017, a Bradford County, PA judge turned down Chesapeake Energy’s attempt to wiggle out of a royalty lawsuit on a technicality (see Bradford County, PA Judge Keeps Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit Alive). However, the judge punted the case to a higher court, Commonwealth Court, to settle what he calls “novel questions of law”–rather than spending more time and money on such issues at the county court level. On Friday Commonwealth Court ruled…
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PA Floats Bill to Allow Shale Drilling to Span Multiple Units

Some Pennsylvania landowners have recently been approached by the companies they’re leased with, asking landowners to sign amended leases to allow cross-unit drilling. We personally know of one case in which a driller requested such an amendment in northeast PA. So it is with great interest we notice a new bill has been introduced in the PA House, specifically to allow cross-unit shale drilling.
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Fed Court Says WV Driller Doesn’t Have to Produce Gas to Keep Lease

We spotted a write-up on a recent court decision coming from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in which a West Virginia landowner had a signed Marcellus lease requiring PetroEdge (later Statoil) to drill three wells on or under their property. And yet the courts have sided with the driller, essentially allowing the driller to wiggle out of the terms of the lease.
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EQT Settles WV Class Action Royalty Lawsuit for $53.5M

In 2013 some 10,000 West Virginia landowners/rights owners filed a class action lawsuit against EQT over their practice of post-production deductions from royalty checks. The lawsuit was scheduled to go to trial last November, but at the last minute, it didn’t. Word leaked that EQT had settled out of court (see EQT Avoids Trial, Settles WV Class Action re Royalty Deductions). Since that time we haven’t heard a peep–until this morning when EQT announced the terms of a “tentative” settlement.
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“Rule of Capture” Briefs Filed w/PA Supreme Court in Briggs Case

In November the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear a case, Briggs v. Southwestern Energy, that is hands-down the most important court case to ever happen regarding the Marcellus Shale in PA. And no, we’re not exaggerating. A blizzard of briefs by Southwestern and those supporting Southwestern were filed earlier this week.
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Columbia Sues Southwestern Energy for Shorting Royalties in WV

Here’s an interesting twist on the theme of drillers shorting leaseholders out of royalty money. Usually such cases involve drillers claiming post-production deductions from landowner royalty checks. This time the landowner/rightsholder is Columbia Gas Transmission (pipeline company owned by midstream giant TransCanada), and the claim is that Southwestern Energy (driller) is not paying royalties for gas produced but not actually sold.
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PA AG Will Continue Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit in Bradford Co.

PA AG Josh Shapiro

Pennsylvania’s Democrat Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, held a public meeting last night in Towanda (Bradford County), PA to talk about the state’s now three-year-old lawsuit against Chesapeake Energy, a lawsuit alleging the company has shafted landowners out of gas royalty money.
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Fed Court Allows PA Royalty Lawsuit Against Chesapeake to Proceed

Coincidentally on the topic of royalty lawsuits (see today’s companion story, PA AG Will Continue Chesapeake Royalty Lawsuit in Bradford Co.), MDN came across a story (and a lawsuit) we previously had not heard about. An important case brought by landowners in Wyoming County, PA.
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Peregrine Energy Buys Royalty Rights in Greene County, PA

There are companies that will purchase landowners’ (rights owners) royalty payments–giving them a lump sum payment up front in return for signing over all future royalty payments to the company buying the rights. Peregrine Energy Partners is one such company and has just purchased an unspecified amount of royalty payments in Greene County, PA.
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Big Crowd Turns Out to Support/Oppose Drilling Under SWPA Park

The mystery is now solved. Last week we incorrectly (based on a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article) reported that FirstEnergy wants to drill a well under (not on) Linbrook Park, located in the Borough of Franklin Park in Allegheny County (see original story here). It’s not FirstEnergy but PennEnergy that wants to do the drilling.
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PA Leases Youghiogheny River Land in SWPA to Chevron $4K/Ac

Youghiogheny River (credit: Wikipedia)

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), every now and again, will lease state-owned land for gas drilling. The DCNR has just leased land under the Youghiogheny River in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. We have the full lease, and lease terms, below…
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PennEnergy Offers $3.5K/Ac to Drill Under SWPA Town Park

NOTE: This story and the headline have been updated to correct an earlier error from the source we used. It is not FirstEnergy but PennEnergy that is proposing to drill under the park.

We spotted a second story today about a new lease, in this case proposed lease terms, for land in southwestern Pennsylvania. This time the driller, PennEnergy, wants to drill under (not on) a town park that sits on the border of Allegheny and Beaver counties.
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BLM Auctions 75 Acres in OH’s Wayne Natl Forest for $209/Acre

Last week the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Eastern States Office ran another oil and gas lease auction for federal land on the eastern side of the country. Up for auction was 2,456 acres in Ohio, Michigan and Mississippi. Only half of the property listed for auction actually brought bids and sold. Of the 2,456 acres offered, a piddly 75 acres, in two parcels, was located in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest (WNF)–in Monroe County. That is, 3% of all the acreage in the BLM sale was in the Ohio Utica–and yet that 3% brought in 69% of the revenue from the sale: $15,720 total. However, the amount paid per acre for the WNF parcels seems to be small–just $209 per acre. So who picked up the 75 acres for a song?
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OH Supremes “Clarify” Preservation of Royalty Interest Under OMTA

If a deed refers to a previously reserved royalty interest where the reference identifies the type of interest created and the person to whom the interest was granted (with no other details), is that sufficiently specific enough to preserve the royalty interest under the Ohio Marketable Title Act (OMTA)? According to a decision rendered last week by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the answer is, “Yes.” In a case with its roots dating back to 1915, landowners attempted to sever royalty interests under the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act, attempting to cancel the old interest because a 1969 deed that referred back to the original deal (of one-half royalty interest) was not “specific enough.” The 1969 reference didn’t include the volume and page number of the instrument that originally created the royalty interest. In other words, it wasn’t a “Simon Says” kind of thing–it didn’t follow the exact legal standard. The current landowner tried to cancel the original royalty sharing obligation via a legal loophole.
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EQT Avoids Trial, Settles WV Class Action re Royalty Deductions

Two weeks ago MDN told you about a class action lawsuit that’s been brewing in West Virginia since 2013, brought by 10,000 WV landowners and royalty rights owners against EQT over the company’s practice of deducting post-production expenses from royalty payments (see WV Class Action Against EQT re Royalty Deductions Heads to Court). The trial was set to begin this past Tuesday, but we’re just now learning that late last week EQT settled with the plaintiffs out of court. We don’t have many details. What we do have is confirmation that there’s been a settlement and that the trial was canceled. Here’s the details we have so far.
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