Looking to maximize the value of your gas, oil, or shale?
The oil and gas attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner use our resources to make the most of yours.
The Appalachian region has always been blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Most recently, the Marcellus and Utica shale plays are bringing new opportunities to West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Drilling activity is proceeding at a very fast pace throughout much of the region, especially in the liquids-rich areas of northwestern West Virginia (Tyler County, Wetzel County, and Ritchie County) and eastern Ohio (Belmont County, Carroll County, Columbiana County, and Monroe County).
At the same time, a renewed export market and new uses for natural gas—including motor vehicle fuel and electricity generation—have spurred a flurry of production in dry gas areas, such as Harrison County, Barbour County, and Taylor County, West Virginia. While the unconventional drilling methods currently favored among producers present similar challenges in each of these locations, there are unique conditions in each region of which oil and gas owners—and their attorneys—must be aware.
The oil and gas lawyers at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC are well versed with local practices and conditions. Our attorneys specialize in oil and gas lease negotiations, oil and gas lease amendments or ratifications, oil and gas ownerships rights disputes, surface concerns, and oil and gas tax issues.
Oil and Gas Lease Negotiations
The oil and gas lawyers at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC have extensive, proven experience assisting West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania mineral owners in negotiating the best possible deals for their property. The attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC will work with you to understand your plans for the use and development of oil and gas, surface, or other minerals that you own. Then we put our expertise to work to help negotiate and obtain favorable lease bonuses, royalty numbers, and terms consistent with your plans.
For new oil and gas leases, our attorneys assist owners in securing higher upfront bonuses and royalty percentages. Our oil and gas lawyers can also successfully negotiate lease terms to protect surface rights, ensure water supplies are not interrupted, and specify the placement of wells, roads, and equipment. This often involves the negotiation of limitations on the use of the surface, a vertical pugh clause, horizontal pugh clause, depth severance, or limitations on your liability.
Oil and Gas Lease Amendments or Ratifications
Many oil and gas rights were leased decades or even generations ago. The gas companies often claim they still hold these rights by production. But there are some common problems with these aging oil and gas leases. The leases may contain provisions that make development of the resources difficult or impossible for the gas company. Other times, the lease itself may no longer be valid. In these cases, the gas company may want the owner to sign a lease amendment or ratification to cure the defects in the lease. The gas company may say it’s just a formality and that the owner must sign to develop the resource.
If you have a lease that is allegedly held by production or “HBP”, the oil and gas attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC can help you negotiate an amended lease that serves your best interests—not the gas company’s. Our lawyers can help ensure that producers fully develop all resources and that owners receive the maximum value from the new or amended leases. We can often obtain additional provisions that help you protect your land and mineral rights for future generations.
Oil and Gas Ownership Rights Disputes
In West Virginia, mineral rights were often reserved or severed from the surface many generations ago and handed down via will or inheritance. Today, it is sometimes unclear as to who owns what. When two or more land or mineral owners cannot agree on the specifics of ownership rights, the oil and gas attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC can help interpret the reservations or deed provisions on our clients’ behalf. If necessary, our attorneys can file a partition suit or an action to quiet title. In each case, the lawyers at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC work to preserve, restore, and maximize our clients’ rights to land and resources.
Addressing Surface Concerns
Typically, gas companies are respectful of surface use of the land and of surface owner’s rights. Yet many landowners are rightly concerned about the effects of fracking or hydraulic fracturing. As in any industry, the oil and gas business does have its share of bad actors and even the most reputable producers can make mistakes that could destroy your timber, crops, or water supply for livestock.
The oil and gas attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner believe that when it comes to surface concerns, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our lawyers have reviewed thousands of oil and gas leases. We know which provisions you should include to insure that the gas company respects your surface rights and promptly repairs any damage to your property.
Assisting With Oil and Gas Tax Issues
West Virginia is one of very few states that taxes oil and gas in place, regardless of whether it is producing. Even though the real property tax owed on dormant oil and gas properties is minimal, the owner must keep current with taxes.
Sometimes, due to heirship issues or poor communication, an owner fails to pay real estate taxes on oil and gas and may lose his or her mineral rights. Owners usually have 18 months to redeem the property. Even if that time has lapsed, there may be issues with the legality of the sale in the first place.
If you are landowner contending with oil and gas tax issues, the trial lawyers at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC can evaluate your situation, determine if you have any recourse, and pursue your rights in court.
If you are a West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Ohio mineral or landowner with questions about your rights, contact the oil and gas attorneys at Goddard & Wagoner, PLLC today for a free consultation. We’ll use our resources to protect yours. 304-623-HELP (4357)