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WV Needs Updated Mineral Law

by Kenneth E. DuBose on July 26, 2011

West Virginia is tasked with modernizing its oil & gas laws as energy companies begin operations in the state. Marcellus Shale drilling, while great for the economy, is bringing daily challenges to a state that hasn’t experienced this level of activity. The state legislature needs to act as quickly as possible to help build confidence in industry practices. The courts will sort out the rest.

Richard Cain, a Marion County landowner, is suing in an attempt to prevent a gas company from using his land for equipment to drill horizontal wells. Though he doesn’t own the mineral rights under his property, Cain understands state law requires the surface owner to accommodate drilling rigs going after gas directly under his ground.But a relatively new technology allows drillers to sink vertical shafts, then turn them to go thousands of feet horizontally. Cain’s position is that could mean his land is used and damaged to obtain gas from under other people’s property. He doesn’t like the idea and thinks existing law bans the practice.

Determining whether Cain is right will be up to the courts, of course. But the very fact a question exists is more evidence West Virginia’s laws on gas and oil drilling are badly in need of updating.

Read the full news release at

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