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W.Va. Supreme Court: Drilling Rights Are for Minerals Directly Below

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The West Virginia Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of landowners’ claims that a company had no right to drill on their property to access oil and gas on other lands.

The court’s ruling released Wednesday, June 6, says a mineral owner has the right to access only what’s directly below the surface. The court says “it is trespassing to go on someone’s land without the right to do so.”

A Doddridge County Circuit Court jury in 2017 awarded $180,000 to David Wentz and $10,000 to his ex-wife, Margot Beth Crowder, in their lawsuit against EQT Production.

The company held a century-old lease allowing it to drill wells to extract oil and gas from beneath the plaintiffs’ land. The plaintiffs sued to challenge the company’s use of their land to drill horizontal wells extending to neighboring properties.

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