Friday, September 23, 2011

Pa. court will decide if Marcellus gas should be redefined as a mineral, voiding leases

Marcellus shale gas drillers and landowners must wait for a lower court to determine whether thousands of drilling leases are legitimate, following the Pennsylvania Superior Court's ruling that oil and gas ownership rights are unclear, Jim Polson and Mike Lee of Bloomberg report.

This ruling comes following a legal dispute in which the defendants argue shale gas is contained within rocks and should be considered part of the mineral rights, despite the state's century-old practice of considering oil and gas rights separate, Bloomberg reports.

"The case may take as long as two years" to make its way through the lower court, Davide Fine, attorney for K&L Gates LLP said in a phone interview. Meanwhile, many gas and oil companies "may need to check the title to thousands of oil and gas properties they've leased," David Poole, general counsel of Range Resources Corp. told Bloomberg.

Ken Komoroski, attorney with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP in Pittsburgh, suggests a trade association or gas producer petition the Supreme Court to expedite the appeal process, Bloomberg reports.

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