Sunday, June 29, 2003

On coalbed methane royalties in Virginia

The Roanoke Times has this story on the coalbed methane case out of Buchanan County, in which Judge Keary Williams ruled, in essence, that the title to the methane did not pass with the title to the coal when coal mining rights were conveyed, and therefore the property owners and not the coal companies were entitled to the proceeds from the sale of the methane that was in the coal. The case is now on appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court - the questions presented are shown here.

Since the judge's ruling, the lawyers who represented the property owners have placed notices in the Buchanan County newspaper, seeking out additional property owners who may have coalbed methane rights.

The issue is an important one, I suppose, because it affects not only millions of dollars as royalties for the gas already produced, but also the economics of future production of coalbed methane.

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