West Virginia decisions highlight conflict between oil & gas companies, landowners

In contrast to its recent ruling in Andrews v. Antero (See ShaleOhio, June 14), the West Virginia Supreme Court’s decision in EQT Production Company v. Margot Beth Crowder and David Wentz represents “a rare victory for residents,” according to ProPublica. Landowners and lessors Crowder and Wentz sued EQT when EQT drilled on their land to access natural gas underneath neighboring properties. The high court ruled that lessees may only use surface lands to aid in the development of minerals “underlying the [leased] tract;” developers may not use the surface lands of a lessor to develop an adjacent tract without the express permission of the landowner. The 5-0 ruling sets a legal precedent in defining EQT’s actions as trespassing. Read ProPublica’s comparison here.

West Virginia