Oil & Gas Law Report

Tag Archives: Owner

West Virginia joins majority view on oil and gas leasing with new cotenancy statute

On March 5, 2018, the West Virginia Legislature passed new legislation known as the Cotenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act, W. Va. Code § 37B-1-1 et seq. (Cotenancy Statute). This new Cotenancy Statute, which became effective June 3, 2018, is intended to facilitate oil and gas development of West Virginia properties that have numerous fractional oil and gas owners. It applies to tracts in which there are seven or more owners of the oil and gas in place, and changes West Virginia law by allowing an operator to produce oil and gas without the consent of all oil and gas owners under certain circumstances.

Background

Prior to passage of the Cotenancy Statute, West Virginia law mandated consent of 100 percent of the oil and gas owners before an operator could lawfully develop the oil and gas estate. If any oil and gas owner refused to sign a lease, regardless of how small that non-consenting owner’s fractional interest, the operator was compelled to either forego development or file a partition action under W. Va. Code § 37-4-3. Through partition, an operator could acquire the non-consenting owner’s interest at fair market value, as appraised by three special commissioners appointed by the court.…

Production in “Paying Quantities”

The Point: Oil and gas leases are specialized instruments of real estate and contract law. The very existence of the lease can turn on court opinions over 100 years old (with little between now and then) and the court’s interpretation of something as ephemeral as “good faith” can be determinative. Curative documents, a royalty check endorsement, division orders and the like may clarify ambiguities when a lot of money is at stake.

Discussion: The relationship between the owner of minerals (which may be different from the owner of the surface, the subject of a future blog) and the oil company is typically defined in and oil and gas lease where the Owner, in a contract, grants to Lessee defined rights to the property in exchange for promises and money. The length of the lease, the term, is addressed in one of the most important provisions the lease — the “habendum” or term clause, which usually appears near the beginning of the lease. The term clause in an oil and gas lease is the product of long development and experience. It attempts to reconcile the competing interests of the parties. Owner wants a well and its royalty payments quickly (a short term) while Lessee wants flexibility and as much time as possible (a long term). Given the new interest in oil and gas production in Ohio, it is crucial to understand the term clause for both old/existing leases and new ones.…

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