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The Marcellus Shale Play Special Report

The Legal Intelligencer

Horizontal Drilling Presents Unique Leasing Issues
The Legal Inelligencer
June 18, 2013

The modern oil and gas lease is a sophisticated and complex legal instrument that has evolved over the last several decades. This evolution, however, has generally occurred within the "vertical well" context. Recent technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have resulted in unprecedented leasing activity throughout Pennsylvania. Full Text


Is the Natural Gas Industry in Pa. Creating More Legal Work?
The Legal Intelligencer
May 14, 2013

While there is currently debate over whether the rise of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania has created as many jobs as some had originally projected, there is little disagreement among attorneys and legal recruiters that there is, at the moment, plenty of legal work flowing from the drilling industry and, as a consequence, steady demand for oil and gas lawyers. Full Text


Two Recent Suits Display Scope of Gas Lease Litigation
The Legal Intelligencer
April 30, 2013

Two complaints recently filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania serve as examples of the wide scope of gas lease-related litigation coming out of the state's natural gas plays. Full Text


Pa. Justices Rule Shale, Natural Gas Are Not Minerals
The Legal Intelligencer
April 26, 2013

The state Supreme Court has decided there is no need for a scientific debate over whether shale and the natural gas contained within it fall under the definition of "minerals" for the purposes of deed reservations. Full Text


Marcellus Shale, Revenue Hunt Spur Pa. Firm Mergers
The Legal Intelligencer
April 8, 2013

Pennsylvania firms have frequently been the subjects of law firm mergers in one of the most active quarters for merger activity the industry has seen since the beginning of 2009, according to a report by legal consultancy Altman Weil. Full Text


Shale Drilling Impact Fees Tapped to Fund Conservation Projects
The Legal Intelligencer
March 5, 2013

Five new conservation programs will be the beneficiary of $14 million in new funding from impact fees paid by companies drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, the Corbett administration has announced. Full Text


Factoring Shale Royalties Into Estate Planning
The Legal Intelligencer
February 5, 2013

While the Marcellus and Utica shales present a boon to the Pennsylvania economy, the negotiation of a lease should not be the only legal consideration for a landowner. There are a multitude of estate and income-tax issues to consider both before and after signing a lease and before drilling commences. Full Text


Gas Lawyers Say Price Will Dictate the Practice in 2013
The Legal Intelligencer
February 5, 2013

Energy lawyers in Pennsylvania said the price of natural gas will be one of the main drivers determining which areas of oil and gas law are busy in 2013. Full Text


Spector Gadon Starts Energy and Environmental Practice
The Legal Intelligencer
November 28, 2012

Philadelphia-based Spector Gadon & Rosen has started an energy and environmental practice group with the addition of environmental lawyer Kermit L. Rader, who will chair the group. Full Text


Litigation Over Groundwater Impacts of Natural Gas Wells
The Legal Intelligencer
November 20, 2012

Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson in Harrisburg denied a request for a Lone Pine order in a natural gas migration case, Roth v. Cabot Oil & Gas, Civil Action No. 3:12-cv-898 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 15, 2012). That decision offers an opportunity to consider some issues arising from claims that shale gas development (fracking) in Pennsylvania has caused personal injury or property damage as the result of contamination of neighbors' water wells or other migration of natural gas to neighbors' property. Full Text


Wins and Losses for Gas Company in Marcellus Shale
The Legal Intelligencer
October 22, 2012


In the natural-gas fields of Pennsylvania, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. has had a split week in federal court — winning its motion to dismiss an amended complaint from a drilling company with which it had a contract and losing its argument that plaintiffs should show a heavy burden of proof before starting discovery in a separate case. Full Text


Pa. Justices Hear Arguments Over Shale Drilling Law
The Legal Intelligencer
October 18, 2012


Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices listened to nearly two hours of arguments Wednesday morning in Pittsburgh over whether aspects of the state's new Marcellus Shale drilling law take too much power away from local governments. Full Text


Caldwell v. Kriebel Resources Co., LLC
The Legal Intelligencer Case Digest
October 9, 2012


The transference of "all" gas rights included both Marcullus Shale gas and gas in shallower formations and plainiffs could not show that defendants breached the lease agreement. Defendants preliminary objections were granted and the complaint was dismissed. Full Text


PUC Says Pittsburgh Drilling Ban Violates State Law
The Legal Intelligencer
September 18, 2012


Pittsburgh's ban on oil and natural gas drilling is in direct conflict with the state's authority to establish environmental standards, according to a recent opinion from the Public Utility Commission. Full Text


Corbett Administration Challenges Court Decision to Set Aside Part of Act 13
The Legal Intelligencer
September 11, 2012


A Commonwealth Court panel wrongly struck down zoning provisions in the Act 13 amendments to the state's Oil and Gas Act, according to briefs filed on September 4 by attorneys representing the state government, the Corbett administration and the Public Utility Commission. Full Text


Driller Accused of Overbilling Joint Marcellus Shale Accounts
The Legal Intelligencer
August 30, 2012


Two oil and gas drillers, along with an oil and gas investor, have sued a third driller with which they had partnered for natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale, alleging the company overbilled two joint accounts, one by more than $2 million and the other by more than $630,000, and then failed to fully reimburse the money. Full Text


Natural Gas and Zoning: The Commonwealth Court's Act 13 Decision
The Legal Intelligencer
August 28, 2012


On July 26, the Commonwealth Court decided Robinson Township v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Comm'n, No. 284 M.D. 2012, invalidating portions of the Oil and Gas Act amendments of 2012 (known as Act 13). Specifically, Robinson Township struck down the provisions of Act 13 constraining the application of local land use controls to oil and gas facilities and sustained others. Full Text


Taking a Closer Look at the Politics Surrounding the Marcellus Shale
The Legal Intelligencer
August 21, 2012


The Marcellus Shale is, to many in north central Pennsylvania, the most beautiful sound they ever heard in two words. That sound is frequently the jingling of cash in the register, although it is most likely that they are seeing big bills that don't jingle but do change lives. Full Text


Lawyers Say Report Affirms Their Investments in Marcellus Shale Play
The Legal Intelligencer
August 14, 2012


Oil and gas lawyers said a recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration showing the Marcellus Shale play to be the fastest-growing natural gas play in the United States serves as an affirmation for attorneys and law firms that have built their practices around the oil and gas industry in the Appalachian Basin. Full Text


Zoning, Pre-emption and the Constitution
The Legal Intelligencer
August 14, 2012


"The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people." Full Text


Gas Lease Precedent in Doubt, Federal Judge Says
The Legal Intelligencer
August 7, 2012


A U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania judge has declined to take up a contract dispute between two Greene County, Pa., landowners and two gas companies, saying despite evolving Pennsylvania oil and gas law he could not confidently predict that the state Supreme Court would overturn a precedent first established more than a century ago governing the contractual liability of drillers who assign their leases to other drillers. Full Text


Court Says DEP May Not Deny Records Requests as Burdensome
The Legal Intelligencer
August 7, 2012


In a decision lawyers said has broad applicability for Pennsylvania open records law, the Commonwealth Court has ruled that the state Department of Environmental Protection may not deny requests for records related to water supply contamination from oil and gas drilling operations simply on the basis that it would be burdensome to search for them. Full Text


Marcellus Drillers Hope for Swift Action on Act 13 Appeal
The Legal Intelligencer
August 7, 2012


An attorney within the natural gas drilling industry said he hopes for quick action on an appeal of a Commonwealth Court ruling that overturned a local zoning provision in Act 13, the recently approved Marcellus Shale drilling law. The ruling stripped the law of a provision that would prevent local governments from enacting changes in their zoning ordinances merely to block drilling. The Corbett administration has appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Full Text


Interpreting Oil and Gas Leases in Pa.'s Shale Gas Era
The Legal Intelligencer
July 31, 2012


An oil and gas lease is the fundamental document through which a producer obtains rights to explore for and develop oil, natural gas and other hydrocarbons. When landowners and production companies enter into oil and gas leases, they do so with business purposes in mind in the context of a unique industry. Full Text


Comm. Court Deals Gas Industry A Loss, Strikes Act 13 Provisions
The Legal Intelligencer
July 24, 2012


A deeply split en banc Commonwealth Court panel has invalidated as unconstitutional amendments to the state's Oil and Gas Act requiring municipalities to adopt uniform zoning ordinances that would allow drilling in all zoning districts. Full Text


Shift Toward 'Wet' Gas Doesn't Mean Bust for NEPA, Lawyers Say
The Legal Intelligencer
July 24, 2012


One of Kentucky's largest firms, Stoll Keenon Ogden, has opened an office in Western Pennsylvania with three of its existing lawyers who focus their practices on real estate due diligence and title examinations for oil and gas, as well as coal, producers. Full Text


 Ky. Firm Opens Western Pa. Office With Oil and Gas Focus
The Legal Intelligencer
July 11, 2012


One of Kentucky's largest firms, Stoll Keenon Ogden, has opened an office in Western Pennsylvania with three of its existing lawyers who focus their practices on real estate due diligence and title examinations for oil and gas, as well as coal, producers. Full Text


 Landowner Rights Backers Push to Advance Bill
The Legal Intelligencer
July 3, 2012


Legislation that would amend the Action to Quiet Title Law relating to subsurface rights awaits action in the House Judiciary Committee.Full Text


 Business Groups Lobby for Tax Credit for Petrochemical Plant
The Legal Intelligencer
June 26 2012


Pennsylvania's leading business groups asked members of the General Assembly to approve Governor Tom Corbett's proposal for a multi-year tax credit to cement a deal with Royal Dutch Shell that will bring a petrochemical plant to Southwest Pennsylvania. Full Text


Pipeline Ruling Gives Attorneys Guidance on FERC Reviews
The Legal Intelligencer
June 26, 2012


Energy and environmental lawyers across the state said a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allowing the construction of a 39-mile long, 30-inch wide natural gas pipeline through Northern Pennsylvania to proceed provides some guidance as to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's standard of review. Full Text


Babst Calland Opens Ohio Office in Response to Drilling Industry Shift
The Legal Intelligencer
June 18, 2012


Pittsburgh-based Babst Calland has opened an Akron, Ohio, office in the hopes of better serving its clients in a natural gas industry that is largely shifting its focus away from Northeastern Pennsylvania and toward Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Full Text


Attorneys Say Drillers Moving Out of Northeastern Pa.
The Legal Intelligencer
June 15, 2012


The financial woes plaguing the nation's second largest natural gas explorer, Chesapeake Energy Corp., have made for headline fodder recently, but some Pennsylvania energy attorneys said the company's problems are indicative of larger trends: the floundering price of "dry" gas and the ongoing shift of drilling operations from Northeastern Pennsylvania to the southwestern portion of the state and Ohio.  Full Text


Lawyers Spar Over Constitutionality of Act 13 Provisions
The Legal Intelligencer
June 7, 2012


Challenges to amendments to Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Act, prohibiting local municipalities from passing zoning ordinances aimed at banning natural gas drilling, went before the Commonwealth Court on Wednesday in Harrisburg, marking the first time attorneys argued the constitutionality of the closely watched Act 13. Full Text


Act 13 Arguments Set for Wednesday
The Legal Intelligencer
June 5, 2012


An en banc Commonwealth Court panel is set to hear arguments on the constitutionality of recent amendments to the zoning provisions of the state's Oil and Gas Act on Wednesday in Harrisburg. Full Text


'Mineral' Definition Case Could Have Big Impact on Shale
The Legal Intelligencer
May 15, 2012


It has been said that possession is nine-tenths of the law. Recently the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal of a case that involves the other one-tenth, which seems unremarkable enough. Except that this one-tenth has the potential to affect hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of oil and gas leases in Pennsylvania. Full Text


Pre-emption and Natural Gas Development: Who Is the Decider?
The Legal Intelligencer
May 1, 2012


Controversy over development of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale and other "unconventional" resources resulted in two unrelated legal news items during the week of April 9. On April 11, Senior Judge Keith Quigley of the Commonwealth Court preliminarily enjoined the effectiveness of Section 3309 of the 2012 amendments to the Oil and Gas Act, known as Act 13. Then, on April 13, President Obama issued Executive Order 13605, titled "Supporting Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources." Each of these events addresses, in part, the important question of which government ought to regulate the pace, manner and form of natural gas development. Full Text


W. Va. Firm Merges With Western Pa. Energy Boutique
The Legal Intelligencer
April 27, 2012


Charleston, W.Va.-based Jackson Kelly has announced it will expand its Western Pennsylvania energy law presence with the addition of Indiana, Pa.-based oil and gas boutique Gormly Gormly & Yuhas. Full Text


Anti-Fracking Group Adds Claims to Surveillance Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
April 24, 2012


Opponents of hydraulic fracturing in Luzerne County can add defamation and conspiracy claims to their suit against the private surveillance company that the government allegedly hired to watch them, a federal judge has ruled. Full Text


Judge Bars Drillers, Lawmakers From Intervening in Act 13 Suit
The Legal Intelligencer
April 23, 2012


A Commonwealth Court judge has barred industry groups, drillers and legislators from intervening in a suit filed by seven Pennsylvania municipalities and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network that alleges the recent zoning-related amendments to the state's Oil and Gas Act are unconstitutional. Full Text


Penn Virginia to Acquire Pipeline Company in $1 Billion Deal
The Legal Intelligencer
April 12, 2012


Penn Virginia Resource Partners said Tuesday that it will pay $1 billion to acquire pipeline company Chief Gathering to expand its own operations in the natural gas-producing Marcellus Shale formation in the northeast United States. Full Text
 



Pa. Justices Agree to Take Up Landmark Shale Case
The Legal Intelligencer
April 5, 2012

The state Supreme Court has granted allocatur in a case in which it has been asked to stop a scientific debate over whether shale is a "mineral" before the debate even begins. Full Text


Small Firms Say Expertise Trumps Size in Marcellus Shale
The Legal Intelligencer
March 27, 2012

The seemingly overnight explosion of the Marcellus Shale play has attracted law firms of all sizes and practices from both inside and outside Pennsylvania. But while some believe the amount of work coming from major drillers will require the huge staff only a megafirm can provide to manage it, smaller firms are banking on the depth of their expertise to help them remain competitive. Full Text
 



Shell's Cracker Plant Moves Toward Reality, but Still Years Away
The Legal Intelligencer
March 27, 2012

The announcement that the Shell Oil Co. chose a Western Pennsylvania site for a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plan delighted business leaders, government and labor officials. Construction on the site, however, is still years away, state officials said. Full Text



Bill to Give Landowners Edge in Mineral Rights Clears Hurdle
The Legal Intelligencer
March 13, 2012


Legislation to assist landowners who, through no fault of their own, cannot gain ownership of their subsurface mineral, oil and gas rights, cleared the state Senate.  Full Text
 



Oil and Gas Lease Fund Expects Weak Collections
The Legal Intelligencer
February 28, 2012


The General Fund where the state's income, sales and corporate taxes are deposited is not the only state fund where anemic collections are predicted. The Oil and Gas Lease Fund will collect nearly $10 million less next fiscal year than it will this year, according to Secretary of the Department Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan. Full Text



New Marcellus Shale Law Expands PUC Powers
The Legal Intelligencer
February 21, 2012


February 21, 2012The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will have expanded financial control and oversight under the new Marcellus Shale impact fee legislation recently signed by Gov. Tom Corbett. Full Text

 


Changes to Oil and Gas Act Could Raise New Legal Issues
The Legal Intelligencer

February 15, 2012

Gov. Tom Corbett has signed into law a measure that makes what some lawyers have called "wholesale" changes to Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Act, including imposing "impact fees" on Marcellus Shale wells and limiting local governments' ability to regulate drilling. Full Text


Western Pa. Could Become Global Energy Power, Lawyers Say
The Legal Intelligencer
January 31, 2012

As Western Pennsylvania continues to attract oil and gas companies, as well as attorneys and law firms from far and wide, some lawyers say the region is emerging as a major player in the global energy industry whose importance and influence could last well beyond the life span of the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. Full Text


Scientists Investigating Fracking Wastewater Disposal's Link to Earthquakes
The Legal Intelligencer
January 31, 2012

Scientists are assessing whether injecting wastewater from fracking can cause earthquakes, and if it can, whether the quakes are severe enough to cause surface damage. Full Text

Timing of Final Vote on Impact Fee Legislation Uncertain
The Legal Intelligencer
January 24, 2012

Legislative sources said that lawmakers negotiating legislation that will impose an impact fee on natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale have numerous issues to resolve, leaving the timing for a final vote still up in the air. Full Text


Krancer Letter Suggests DEP, EPA Relations Still Contentious
The Legal Intelligencer
January 17, 2012

In light of a recent letter from the head of the state Department of Environmental Protection to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official that called federal regulators' understanding of a local well water contamination issue "rudimentary," it appears relations between state and federal regulators regarding the Marcellus Shale continue to be strained. Full Text



Drillers Group Asks Court to Hold U.S. Forest Service in Contempt
The Legal Intelligencer

January 12, 2012

A group of Pennsylvania drillers has asked a federal judge to hold the U.S. Forest Service in contempt for refusing to comply with the court's 2009 injunction that lifted the federal agency's de facto ban on drilling in the 512,000-acre Allegheny National Forest. Full Text


Best Practices for Managing Risk in the Marcellus Shale Region
The Legal Intelligencer
December 28, 2011

Companies that either lease land for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") or provide goods, services or workers to gas companies in the Marcellus Shale region should routinely re-evaluate their risk management strategies. Full Text


Shale Impact Fee Legislation Now in Conference Committee
The Legal Intelligencer
December 27, 2011

The state House of Representatives has refused to concur in Senate amendments to legislation that would impose an impact fee on natural gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale. The bill now moves to a conference committee of House and Senate leaders aimed at reaching a compromise on the language in the new year. The resulting bill will go back to each chamber for an up-or-down vote — under the rules of the General Assembly, no amendments would be permitted. Full Text

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