Monday, October 31, 2011
Litigation Over Mineral Rights Could Stymie Fracking
This litigation could cause problems both for the energy industry and for land owners. No one tracks the number of disputes over gas ownership in Pennsylvania, but lawyers and court clerks in counties with heavy drilling say such conflicts are mounting. Pennsylvania is a particularly fertile ground for lawsuits because mineral law there hasn't developed as thoroughly as in states with longer histories of natural-gas production. Laws governing ownership of mineral rights vary from state to state, but it is common in many to sell separate rights to minerals, coal, oil and gas.
That is the case in Pennsylvania, where new legal questions are coming up on some fundamental issues. These include whether ownership of shale gas, which is tightly bound to the rock in which it is found and usually extracted using horizontal-drilling techniques, should be treated differently from conventional gas extracted through traditional vertical wells. (WSJ, 10/31/2011)