Co-tenancy a priority for legislators, industry
By Evan Bevins
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a massive reserve of natural gas underground, an anticipated $84 billion investment by a Chinese company and continued questions over how resources will be extracted, oil and natural gas will likely be a significant topic in the West Virginia Legislature’s 2018 session.
Lawmakers and industry leaders said during Friday’s West Virginia Press Association Legislative Lookahead in Charleston that the No. 1 legislative priority is “co-tenancy,” which would address the handling of mineral rights for tracts of land with multiple owners. Under current law, if one of those individuals objects, the minerals cannot be extracted.
“In some tracts of land, you can have hundreds of mineral interest owners,” said Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, which supports various businesses related to the industry.
Legislation introduced last year didn’t make it to the governor’s desk, but Delegate Bill Anderson, R-Wood and chairman of the House Energy Committee, said he believes there is general support for a plan that would allow for extraction of minerals if a supermajority of 75 percent of owners or more agree to it.
Charles Burd, executive director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association-West Virginia, said many states have similar laws on the books, but the number of owners who can speak for the property varies.
“There’s other places where just one owner can agree and speak for everybody else,” he said.
Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, said fairness for all involved is the goal, so the legislation must make sure there is a recourse for owners who would prefer not to allow drilling to still “make sure they’re getting fair market value.”
Blankenship said it seems lawmakers and the industry are on the same page. …
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