Goddard & Wagoner PLLC has helped many mineral owners throughout north central West Virginia. We have helped oil and gas owners have leases invalidated, negotiate new leases, negotiate amendments and ratifications, and we have helped find buyers for our clients’ minerals. Whether your oil and gas is located in Doddridge, Harrison, Tyler, Wetzel, Lewis, Upshur, Barbour, Marshall, Marion, Monongalia, or some other county, we may be able to help you. Below are a few frequently asked questions, and some general answers that may help you:
Q: How Much Are My Rights Worth?
A: The value of oil and gas rights varies greatly based on where your property is located, its leasehold status, and the wells, or proposed wells that surround it. Generally, the further west you go in the Marcellus and Utica plays, the more liquids you encounter. Natural gas liquids (e.g. propane, butane, etc.) command a higher price on the market than dry gas and the companies will typically pay a higher lease bonus and royalty in liquid rich areas, such as Tyler County. We have worked with landowners from Richland County, Ohio to Upshur County, West Virginia, and everything in between. We have the expertise and resources to evaluate the status of your rights and their fair market price.
Q: My Oil and Gas Rights are Already Leased, What Can I Do About It?
A: Mineral rights in this part of the state are often subject to older oil and gas leases and may be held by production. Typically, a valid lease with consistent production will hold your rights—but not always. These older leases may be invalid due to lapses in production or will contain terms that prevent the gas company from economically producing from the Marcellus, Utica or other deep formations. The gas company usually tries to cure its lease problems with an amendment and ratification and may tell you that such a document is “just a formality.” Prior to signing anything, you should understand the nature of the document you are signing and the full extent of the rights you may be signing away. We have successfully obtained additional bonus and royalty money for owners of rights held by old leases and, while we can’t guarantee that we can get more money for you, we would be happy to discuss your case free of charge.
Q: I Don’t Know What Rights I Own/ My Rights Are Disputed, Can I Still Sign?
A: Oil and gas have been produced in north central WV for over a century. Because of this, there are frequently issues in your chain of title that can affect ownership of the mineral rights. These issues are often caused by older deeds that are subject to different interpretations. Often, the difference between receiving a bonus or not hinges on one word or phrase in a deed. We have significant experience in interpreting these deeds and if there is a dispute as to ownership, we can represent you in court to obtain all of your rights.
Q: I Also Own Surface Rights, How Can I Protect My Land?
A: Typically, the gas companies are respectful of your surface use of the land. As in any industry, however, there are bad actors and even the most reputable producers make mistakes that can destroy your timber and crops. As in many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We have reviewed thousands of oil and gas leases and know which provisions you should include to insure that the company respects your surface rights and promptly repairs any damage to the property.
Q: My Rights Were Sold at a Tax Sale, Can I Get Them Back?
A: West Virginia is one of very few states that tax oil and gas in the ground, regardless of whether it is producing. Even though the tax owed on dormant oil and gas properties is minimal, the owner must keep current with his or her taxes. Sometimes, due to heirship issues or poor communication, an owner fails to pay taxes and may lose his or her mineral rights. You usually have eighteen 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. We can help you determine if you have any recourse and if so, pursue your rights in court.
Q: I Only Own A Portion of The Rights, What Can I Do About It?
A: Much of the oil and gas in Tyler County is owned by numerous tenants in common. In other words, many people own various fractions of the rights underlying a single tract. The gas company must lease all of the owners in order to produce from that tract, or lands pooled with it. Therefore, while you only own a portion, you still have significant bargaining power. Moreover, as discussed above, you may own more than you think. We can help you determine what you own and maximize the return on the rights that you do own.
The lawyers at Goddard & Wagoner PLLC stand ready to talk to you about your oil and gas rights. We offer contingency fees on many of these cases, where we only get paid if we succeed in invalidating a lease or negotiating a more favorable lease than you were previously offered. Call us for a free consultation and learn whether we can help you get the most value for your valuable oil and gas rights. (304) 451-3500 or visit our website at www.GoddardLawWV.com.