West Virginia State House Does Not Pass Amended Senate Bill Permitting Forced-Pooling for Development of Natural Gas

By: Amanda L. Fitzhugh Porter, Esq.

The West Virginia Senate passed an amended version of House Bill 2688 on Saturday, March 14, 2015, which allowed forced pooling for the hold-out mineral owners when 80 percent of the mineral rights in the region specified for development were leased.  This amended version was sent back to the House on March 14, 2015 where the Bill was ultimately defeated by a tied vote of 49-49. Opponents argued that passing the forced pooling bill would essentially equate to a taking of property and is not in the best interest of the people of West Virginia.

The original House Bill 2688 was passed on March 5, 2015 by a vote of 60-40, was supported by the Oil and Gas Industry and was the first successful attempt to get such a bill passed after several failed efforts in the past.  The original Bill created a commission that would review applications for forced pooling and would intervene when needed to establish a just and reasonable price, but only after 80 percent of the mineral rights in the region specified for development were leased. If the application was approved, then the hold-out mineral owners could do one of three things:

  • Sell their mineral rights to the other mineral owners, or
  • Participate in the drilling, or
  • Sublease their rights.

The proponents of the forced pooling bill are hopeful that the next attempt to pass such a bill will be successful.

Amanda L. Fitzhugh Porter is an associate in the Energy Practice Group in Leech Tishman’s Pittsburgh office. If you would like more information on this alert, please contact Amanda at (412) 261-1600 or aporter@leechtishman.com. Learn more about Leech Tishman’s Energy Practice Group here.

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