Proposed Legislation for Forced Pooling in WV Gaining Steam - Beware Mineral Owners

Have been following this closely and it appears the proposed Forced Pooling Legislation in the State of West Virginia is getting pushed along by the Oil and Gas Industry. There is already a law in place that covers formations below the Marcellus, but it appears now, the Oil and Gas Industry would like to take more from Land and Mineral Owners. The Legislation proposed by Industry Lawyers would put in place a 5 person committee, made up of an Industry Shills no doubt, to decided what "Fair and Just" bonus payments and royalty amounts will be paid to Land / Mineral Owners. This committee will base it's ruling on evidence that the O&G companies present, including what other minerals in the proximity of the mineral in question, were leased for. So if a mineral was leased for $10 per acre 20 years ago at the base rate of 12.5%, this could be used as evidence and what you could be paid under the proposed law. Keep in mind that this is being proposed because O&G Operators have such a hard time of tracking down the thousands of mineral owners required to be profitable and have abandoned massive amounts of mineral because they couldn't locate a mineral owner who's 10 acres blocked them from fully producing the 640 acre production unit and because many Land / Mineral Owners refuse to negotiate. I say that with the most sarcastic tone possible because that's what the O&G PR machine was churning out on Inside Shale (WAJR) this morning... a radio show that is paid for by the WV Oil and Natural Gas Association (WVONGA).

If you own mineral in the State of West Virginia and don't feel that your mineral should be stolen from you because you decide to decline the "Fair and Just" offer made to you by the Oil and Gas Industry, better start calling and writing letters to your state and local politicians to have your voice heard. Right now they are proposing a requirement of 67% be leased before they can Force Pool your minerals. A mineral owner group has proposed their own legislation with a 90% requirement but it will no doubt be negotiated down.

You can read more about the proposed legislation or google forced pooling in wv.

http://wvpublic.org/term/forced-pooling

Anybody out there for Forced Pooling? I'm not convinced as I've sat in negotiations where landmen have threatened my family to sign for cheap or they will drill our mineral and hold it in an account until we sign their cheap offer. I think this will be another tool they use to force folks into signing bad leases that benefit their own pockets.

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My question is: is this the best that we get and should we sit back and see happens or should we still be calling and urging legislators to vote against it?

It looks like it passed the House, but it still has to get through the Senate.

Now we will need to let our Senators know how we feel about the bill.

http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Senate1/roster.cfm

Given the current political climate, it is likely to pass there, too.

All we can do is go with our conscience.  I'm not usually an activist myself, but this issue has been forced into my sphere of attention, and I will sleep better knowing that I tried.

Remember, too, that it is more than a pass/fail situation.  The bill could be amended further in the Senate, before passing, so we needn't let go of the wheel yet.

This is a case of a tireless industry lobby, returning to the table time and time again, each time shaving off a little from the last request and calling it a 'compromise'.  The strategy has been to support legislators who are in favor of forced pooling, while at the same time wearing down the opposition with their claims of good faith.  The result is, over time, the opposers end up feeling as if they should be more 'reasonable'.  

These representatives don't always have the time to understand an issue thoroughly, so what might sound like compromise to them, in many cases is just a reworking. or a relabelling of the same language.  To some extent, they will listen when a constituent points out a potential conflict.

To say we've done our best, we have to summon the same tirelessness as the oil and gas lobby.

Be specific.  Don't be long-winded, but relate how the bill will affect you or someone you care about.

Most of the opposition I heard was concerning taking away private property rights. Isn't there also a concern that your bargaining power is taken away too?

They are one and the same.  

Forced pooling means that we will be allowed to negotiate terms for our private property,

...as long as we do it their way.

The House is reading and discussing this bill HB2688 now. You can listen online.

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