From my experience, I can comfortably estimate that there are thousands of Pennsylvania landowners who are disappointed and frustrated with the financial terms and property protections contained in their existing Oil and Gas Lease. Virtually every landowner who signed an Oil and Gas Lease early on in the Marcellus Shale gas leasing frenzy is disappointed with the per acre bonus compensation, royalty percentage, royalty deductions, and the lack of property protection terms contained in their Oil and Gas Lease. Most of these landowners entered into an Oil and Gas Lease without adequate legal representation and they unfortunately did not fully understand the terms of their lease and how their gas lease would impact their property for many years and even future generations.
Listeners to my weekly radio show “All Things Marcellus”, hear me consistently preach that the key for landowners to make the right decision is education, quality legal assistance, and complete understanding of their specific situation. In that regard, it is critical that landowners consult with an experienced oil and gas attorney who can assist them in negotiating and understanding the terms of their Oil and Gas Lease and all other contracts relating to natural gas development. Far too often landowners contact my office and inform me that they did not understand the terms of their Oil and Gas Lease, and they did not even consult with an attorney before signing this very important contract.
As most good parents tell their children, “we all make mistakes, but we must learn from those mistakes and not repeat the same mistakes in the future.” An even more valuable tool in education is to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid making those same mistakes in our own lives. These same principles hold true when dealing with natural gas contracts. Specifically, landowners who made mistakes by not consulting a knowledgeable lawyer or fully understanding the terms and conditions of their Oil and Gas Lease must learn from those experiences and not repeat the same mistakes when confronted with Pipeline Agreements, Surface Use Agreements, Roadway Agreements, or other natural gas related contracts.
I continue to see unassisted landowners sign extremely company friendly Pipeline Right-of-Way Agreements, Roadway Agreements, Surface Use Agreements, and many other natural gas related contracts. Most landowners typically do not fully understand the terms in these powerful contracts and how these agreements may impact their property for generations. These landowners fail to maximize the financial benefits and available property protections by failing to effectively negotiate these agreements. All landowners must learn from previous mistakes and secure knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel to assist them in negotiating ANY contracts related to natural gas development.
Please make sure you retain high quality legal counsel to avoid being taken advantage of by highly trained, skilled and experienced company representatives. Do not go through the negotiations process alone and do not sign ANY agreement or document with a natural gas or pipeline company without experienced oil and gas legal counsel.
Douglas A. Clark, Esq. Protecting Pennsylvania Landowners