Farm Bureau Says HB 2688 Represents Gains for West Virginia Land and Mineral Owners
BUCKHANNON, WV: Following a series of meetings with the Independent Oil and Gas Association; National Royalty Owners; West Virginia Land and Minerals; West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association and West Virginia Royalty Owners, West Virginia Farm Bureau has endorsed House Bill 2688, which deals with pooling/unitization of interests in drilling units in connection with all horizontal oil and gas wells in West Virginia.
Acknowledging that the proposed legislation does not completely satisfy the desires of any one group, Farm Bureau leadership believes it is a step in the right direction and a net gain for land and mineral owners. Specifically, the gains WVFB leadership feels the bill provides are:
• Expansion of the Oil and Gas Commission to provide two new members, one representing the agriculture and forest industries in our state and the other representing the state’s mineral owners.
• Maintaining at least an 80% threshold/control of the unit before forced pooling/a unit order could be pursued on any horizontal well, irrespective of depth. Previous legislation called for a supermajority of 67%, as opposed to 80%. In existing law, deep wells can be forced without much protection or concern for the needs and wants of the mineral owner or surface owner. Given the significance of the Utica (which is deep well) and the strata below, the 80% threshold for any horizontal well, shallow or deep, becomes most significant for the mineral owner.
• No surface disturbance on any area subject to a unit order unless an agreement is approved by the surface owner.
• No deductions from royalty payments.
• Compensation to those subject to a unit order will be just and reasonable, based on royalty and bonus payments in the vicinity, as determined by the Commission.
• Opportunity to reunite surface and subsurface estates in the case of lost and unlocatable mineral owners.
Policy approved by the 23,000 member organization states: “Farm Bureau recognizes the importance of private property rights in our society and supports the rights of land and mineral owners to negotiate freely with other parties, but recognizes that certain proposals for unitization for oil and gas extraction may create opportunities for Farm Bureau members which outweigh any objections to the process.” Farm Bureau leadership feels House Bill 2688 creates opportunities for our members, while providing protection for their rights. While not perfect, Farm Bureau feels the bill is a step in the right direction.