I am an Ohio resident. My family has owned a 72 acre plot in the Joseph Mills area for many generations. An old well, drilled in the 1930s, has not provided royalties for many years. The State report indicates no production for several years. We contacted the company to request they release the lease, which they refused. We sent a certified letter to again request. Does anyone know a reputable attorney who will not ask for a percentage of future royalties. Please any advice!

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I should have explained the land is in the state of West Virginia.

What county? Sounds like Tyler.

One thing you can do is to file an Affidavit of nonproduction at the courthouse, stating that there has been no production in (however many years). 

Have you read the lease carefully? There might be something specific in there about conditions when the lease is valid. This is a good area, and the lessee might be planning to assign the lease, but if the conditions are not there for it to be valid, they can't assign it.

Kyle Nuttall, an attorney in this group, is a very knowledgable attorney who is reasonable. 

Thank you so much for this information. The land is in Tyler County. I really appreciate your response.


   We had that problem  in Washington Co, Pa. On a 1898 lease. Produced into 1970's or early 1980's.

  Do you have copy of that lease and your Deed? Should be able to get them at Recorder of Deeds for a few $. Our county uses Landex so I just bought, downloaded and printed them out.

   If you have those Invite me as a friend and I'll go into detail how We used DEP to get a "Surrender of Lease". It took about 6 months but didn't cost more than $20, time on the phone and internet.

An affidavit of forfeiture would be your best bet. It has legal bearing unlike an affidavit of non production

Skippy -

In some states, a portion of the drilling permit fees goes into a bond fund to help with the costs of permanently plugging and abandoning non- productive wells or abandoned wells with no operator of record. If you cannot figure out a way to get the lease released to you for assignment to a new operator, you might also enquire about having the state plug for you.



Hi Skippy.  There are some good suggestions on this thread.  

Here in WV, if a well hasn't produced for a year, it's automatically put on the DEP's list of abandoned wells.  The DEP should have sent out a letter to the operator demanding that they produce, plug, or assign the well to someone that is going to produce or plug.  

If a well hasn't produced in two years, it's presumed that the lease has expired, and it's pretty tough for the operator to say otherwise.  

Tyler County is a hot play right now, so the operator might not be willing to just give up the lease, regardless of the well's status.  But if you can get them to, it will be worth it.  72 acres in Tyler County should bring a nice six-figure signing bonus.  This is very much worth following up on.

I'm an attorney, so if you need legal help, let me know.  But don't feel any pressure to hire me.  We'll still be friends, even if you don't.


Thanks for the reply and to all those that took the time out of their day to respond, thank you.
I relayed all the above info to my father.
My father may contact in the near future.
He went down to the local oil and gas operator office and they just gave him the run around.
Not long after the visit the company went to the well and put some sort of gauge on it about a year ago.
My father did get a report from the state and the report over several years had zero production. I believe he will call charleston and get updated production report.
He just recently sent a certified letter to them.
Waiting to see what there response will be.

Thanks again.

Skippy; one thing to be cautious of is if you just have the well declared as abandoned, your father may be liable for plugging the well or any issue that arises from the well.  Best bet would be to have the operator plug it and then declare the lease null and void.

Check with the state agency with jurisdiction to see if they will fund having the well plugged if the lease is voided.

The fact they attached a meter says they are going to try to fight you. But it also means they should be forced to plug it if you can prove they voided the lease through non-production, failure to pay shut in, and/or other violations of the lease.

good luck

Jim, and Kyle,

I'd like to turn this around a little.  So what if the operator reports a goodly amount of production to the state, falsifies a small amount of production to the landowner and pays the landowner for that small amount of production (certainly not enough to make the well a payable entity).  

ergo, the landowner thinks his well is still producing and the state will think the well is a good producing well, thus the landowner cannot get the state to proceed with the plugging issue or abandonment of lease, failure to pay shut in or other violation of lease, and the producer gets to keep and sell the deep rights.  So just how does one combat this type of fraud?

Send your royalty ( thus production info)  to the state to verify against what they are being sent......the 2 should match up.


And the numbers don't match.  So the producer just says "oops. my bookkeeper must have just made an error, I'll correct it!"     And who is any wiser?  the fraud goes on and on.


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