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Forced pooling advocate talks of revenue potential

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The numbers may have been seductive for legislators who look at ever-dwindling revenue totals, as the attorney for the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association projected that a forced pooling law could mean 100 more natural gas wells a year, producing $10 million in gas and $1 billion worth of new capital investment.

That would translate into more than $430 million to be paid to state mineral rights owners over 20 years and would support tens of thousands of jobs over the next 20 years, according to attorney Kurt Dettinger.

 Dettinger said the state would also see employment increases in satellite jobs, as well.

“It raises revenues without reassigning taxes,” he said.

He said the deeper Utica shale promises to be higher in productivity than the Marcellus. The Marcellus shale is estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to hold 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas.

But opponents of forced pooling have said the taking of natural gas belonging to a property owner who does not sign a pooling agreement is unconstitutional and amounts to stealing.

However, Dettinger said forced pooling has been challenged in the courts, which have upheld the practice as “valid exercises of the states’ powers.”

Forced pooling makes drilling in certain locations more economical for drilling operators. It becomes a bigger issue with hydraulic fracturing…


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