By Briana J. Marino
As reported in The Wheeling Intelligencer, the West Virginia Legislature continues to consider H.B. 4558 and S.B. 578, which would allow oil and gas producers to create production units through “Forced Pooling.” If passed, such a law would allow natural gas producers to include un-leased acreage in their active drilling units if all of the un-leased landowner’s neighbors have been leased. Industry advocates pushing for passage of these measures argue their necessity for West Virginia production to remain competitive in the Marcellus markets, as Pennsylvania and Ohio have similar laws. Opponents of the idea fear that such a law could weaken the position of landowners when negotiating leases with oil and gas companies. The West Virginia Legislature considered similar laws in the past, without success.
The respective bills are currently in Committee in both the House and the Senate. With the current legislative session ending in early March 2014, it is unclear whether the bills will be taken up for a full vote in either house of the legislature prior to the close of the session.
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