Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
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DWG Oil & Gas Acquisitions, LLC (DWG) contended that it was the current owner of the oil and gas underlying a parcel of land in Marshall County. The circuit court determined that the oil and gas underlying the parcel was conveyed by a 1913 deed to A.B. Campbell, a predecessor in title of Southern County Farms, Inc., Harlan and Barbara Kittle, and Lori Carpenter (collectively, Defendants). Consequently, title to the oil and gas was vested in Defendants rather than DWG. DWG appealed, arguing that it was the current owner of the oil and gas at issue by virtue of a competing chain of title arising from a 1908 deed executed by P. P. Campbell, Sr. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court correctly applied the law and properly found that title to the oil and gas underlying the parcel of land is currently vested in Defendants. View "DWG Oil & Gas Acquistions, LLC v. Southern Country Farms" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs sued EQT Production Company and five related entities alleging that Plaintiffs were underpaid royalties with respect to their ownership of oil and gas interests that EQT was contracted to exploit. A federal district court granted summary judgment to the related entities and partial summary judgment EQT. The court reserved its ruling on the remaining aspects of Plaintiff’s claims against EQT pending the disposition of questions certified to the Supreme Court relevant to the claims’ resolution. The Supreme Court declined to answer the second certified question and answered the first certified question as follows: When the lessee-owner of a working interest in an oil or gas well must tender to the lessor-owner of the oil or gas a royalty not less than one-eighth of the total amount paid to or received by or allowed to the lessee, W. Va. Code 22-6-8(e) requires in addition that the lessee not deduct from that amount any expenses that have been incurred in gathering, transporting, or treating the oil or gas after it has been initially extracted any sums attributable to a loss or beneficial use of volume beyond that initially measured or any other costs that may be characterized as post-production. View "Leggett v. EQT Production Co." on Justia Law

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This proceeding consisted of four consolidated appeals. The issue in two of the appeals was whether the alternative-energy infrastructures installed by Petitioners for their businesses met the statutory definition of “qualified alternative fuel vehicle refueling infrastructure” for the purpose of receiving an alternative-fuel infrastructure tax credit. The issue in the other two appeals was whether the alternative-energy infrastructures installed by Petitioners for their residences met the statutory definition of “qualified alternative fuel vehicle home refueling infrastructure” for the purpose of receiving an alternative fuel-infrastructure tax credit. The circuit court affirmed the final orders of the West Virginia Office of Tax Appeals that denied Petitioners’ requests for alternative-fuel infrastructure tax credits under W. Va. Code 11-6d-4(c). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in its judgment. View "Martin Distributing Co. v. Matkovich" on Justia Law

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Bryan and Doris McCurdy filed an action against Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC (MVP) seeking a declaration that MVP had no right to enter their property to survey the area as a potential location for a natural gas transmission pipeline MVP planned to construct. The McCurdys further sought both a preliminary and a permanent injunction prohibiting MVP from entering their property. The circuit court granted declaratory judgment to the McCurdys and also granted the McCurdys a preliminary and a permanent injunction prohibiting MVP from entering their property. The circuit court based its decision on its finding that MVP’s pipeline is not being constructed for a public use in West Virginia. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in concluding (1) MVP could enter the MCurdys’ land to survey the land only if the MVP pipeline was for a public use, and (2) the MVP pipeline was not being constructed for a public use in West Virginia. View "Mountain Valley Pipeline v. McCurdy" on Justia Law

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At dispute in this case was ownership of coalbed methane (CBM) under a 1938 deed. Respondent filed a complaint against Petitioners seeking a declaration of ownership of all CBM on the property conveyed in the deed and an accounting of royalties from Petitioners. Petitioners filed counterclaims and cross claims also seeking a declaration of ownership and an accounting of royalties. The dispositive issue for determination at trial was whether CBM was considered “gas” for purposes of Petitioners’ “oil and gas” reservation in the deed. The circuit court granted judgment in favor of Respondent, concluding that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the predecessors of Petitioners did not intend the reservation in the 1938 deed to include an interest in the CBM. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the reservation in the 1938 deed did not include CBM due to the general opinion at the time that CBM was a hazard and a nuisance. View "Poulos v. LBR Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

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The complex issues at issue in these three consolidated appeals revolved around four overlapping leases to extract oil and gas from land owned by Plaintiff. Each lease contained an arbitration clause. Plaintiff filed the instant case against Defendants seeking a declaration as to which lease was controlling as to which defendants and seeking damages from Defendants. The circuit court entered an order voiding two of the four leases, addressing the substantive terms of two other leases, and compelling the parties to arbitrate any remaining claims by Plaintiff. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) properly found the arbitration clause in one lease to be unenforceable and correctly ruled that the entire lease was unenforceable; (2) erred in compelling certain defendants to participate in arbitration under the terms of a second lease but did not err when it made findings of fact and conclusions of law that addressed the substance of Plaintiff’s claims regarding that lease; (3) erred in voiding a third lease, and its included arbitration clause, in violation the doctrine of severability; and (4) erred in its substantive rulings interpreting a fourth lease, as the court should have referred questions about the lease to arbitration. View "Chesapeake Appalachia, LLC v. Hickman" on Justia Law