Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Horizontal Drilling Regulatory Bills Alive, Moving In West Virginia Legislature

The West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee passed out the Committee Substitute for the Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 424, and the bill is on the first of three readings today (March 1). This bill regulates horizontal drilling activites in West Virginia and would enact water and road use requirements where water use exceeds 210,000 gallons and where horizontal rigs and supply vehicles use state highways. The measure, however, does not provide for forced pooling. The West Virginia House read for the first time its version of a horizontal drilling regulatory bill (Committee Substitute for House Bill 2878). This House version regulates much more pervasively then Senate Bill 424. H.B. 2878 also does not include forced pooling.

It is expected both bills will be read three times by the end of this week and then each legislative body will appoint conferees to work out differences in the bills and agree to any other modifications. It is hoped the conferees will be open to streamlining the regulatory requirements. The 60-day regular legislative session will end Saturday, March 12.

Efforts also are being made to get lawmakers to pass a Study Resolution on unitization of gas mineral interests and co-tenancy issues. The study would be conducted during legislative interim sessions over the summer and fall of 2011.