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West Virginia Legislature Passes Cotenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act

On March 5, 2018, the West Virginia Legislature completed legislative action on and passed House Bill 4268, known as the Cotenancy Modernization and Majority Protection Act.  The bill will now be delivered to the Governor’s desk for his consideration and ultimate approval or veto.  At its core, this bill will allow development of the oil and gas within a particular mineral tract owned  by seven or more cotenants once the operator obtains the consent of at least three-fourths of the executive interest in that tract.  As such, this bill, if signed into law by the Governor, will alter the common law of West Virginia announced in Law v. Heck Oil Co., 106 W. Va. 296 (1928), which held that an owner of an undivided 1/768 interest in the oil and gas in place could block development of the resource even though the owners of the other 767/768 undivided interest had consented to development and leased their interests to the operator.  The passage of this legislation is the culmination of years of negotiations between farmers, land and mineral owners, royalty owners, surface owners, the oil and gas industry and West Virginia elected officials to make West Virginia’s mineral development laws more competitive with other mineral producing states. 

The bill also creates a statutory defense against claims for waste and trespass, limits the liability of non-consenting cotenants, affords non-consenting cotenants an option to elect a production royalty or working interest, and provides for administrative oversight by the West Virginia Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in specified circumstances. 

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About this Author

Kurt Dettinger, Steptoe Johnson Law Firm, Charleston, Corporate and Energy Law Attorney
Member

Kurt Dettinger is a businessman-turned-lawyer who cut his teeth in the business world as a corporate banker.  Mr. Dettinger's business background is integral to his ability to understand his corporate clients' business, negotiate commercial arrangements on their behalf, and propose practical outcomes that make business sense.  Mr. Dettinger focuses his practice in the areas of energy law, energy and financing transactions, and government relations.  In his legal career, he has worked primarily in the private sector, but has also dedicated a portion of his career to...

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L. Gil White, Government Relations Coordinator, Political Liaison Lawyer,
Government Relations Coordinator - WV

Gil White is a former 14-year elected member of the West Virginia State Legislature and a former political liaison to Governor Joe Manchin III.

During the 2016 WV Legislative Session, Mr. White discussed the sales tax exemption bill with Phil Kabler of The Charleston Gazette-Mail.  Click here to read the article.  

Click here to read Mr. White's article in The State Journal on the nomination of Merrick Garland as U.S. Supreme Court Justice. 

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