For the second time this month, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled on surface rights disputes between landowners and E&Ps. On June 10, the court upheld a lower court ruling in a case against Antero Resources Corp. that threw out a collection of lawsuits arguing Antero’s operation in the Cherry Camp area had created a nuisance.
However, the 3-2 decision did not include any new points of law setting precedent for future cases, according to a report in the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The report said the court did not “fully close off the ability of residents to use the courts to limit the effects of West Virginia’s growing natural gas industry.”
The ruling follows last week’s unanimous decision in a case involving EQT Corp. stating that gas companies no longer may drill on one person’s property to reach gas reserves underneath adjacent tracts without permission of the surface owner.
The Antero case was brought by residents in Harrison County who did not have wells located on their property but attempted to argue the horizontal drilling underneath their property violated their surface rights.
In Chief Justice Beth Walker's concurring opinion, she specifically stated that the court “does not answer the broader question of whether the owner of mineral rights underlying Surface Estate A may or may not create a nuisance on Surface Estate A to develop the minerals below Surface Estate B.”
Per-acre prices varied widely between $15 an acre and $11,353 an acre.
The Austin Chalk assessment, which includes the Tokio and Eutaw formations, is believed to also hold about 41.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the report shows.
The wells were drilled by the Transocean Barents semisubmersible rig this summer in the Flemish Pass Basin.