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Royalty disputes continue as West Virginia’s natural gas industry booms

Editor’s Note: This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

By KEN WARD JR.

Charleston Gazette-Mail

A well pad with numerous natural gas wells adjacent to the property of Arnold and Mary Richards draws gas from beneath their land, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.
(ProPublica photo by Raymond Thompson Jr.)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For decades, Arnold and Mary Richards collected monthly royalty checks — most recently from $1,000 to $1,500 — for the natural gas sucked up from beneath their West Virginia farm by small, old wells.

So in 2016, when EQT Corp. drilled six new gas wells, the Ritchie County couple expected to see their royalty payments skyrocket. The much-larger wells would collect far more natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, which is fueling the boom in the state’s gas industry.

The Richards’ checks did grow considerably. But the couple also saw something they didn’t expect: EQT was cutting the size of those new checks.

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