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Oil & Gas Operating Unit No Longer in Jeopardy After WV Supreme Court Win
Spilman recently won an appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia concerning ownership of a unitized oil and gas interest. Below, the Circuit Court of Marshall County declared that a 1977 deed clearly and unambiguously reserved to the grantors (Plaintiffs' predecessors) the unitized oil and gas interest. As a result, the 1977 deed grantee did not own the oil and gas interest and the operator did not have the interest under lease or unitized. Justice Ketchum authored the opinion that reversed and directed the Circuit Court to enter judgment on behalf of the grantee and the operator, citing the ambiguous language in the deed, tax records indicating that the grantor stopped, and the grantee started, paying taxes on the oil and gas interest, and expert testimony about the customary format of a general warranty deed. Consequently, the oil and gas interest remains leased and unitized and the operating unit is not jeopardized.

Energy Law Natural Resources Shale Gas Law Matthew P. Heiskell
304.291.7932 William M. Herlihy