America’s conversation place for mineral owners
Sunday, January 29, 2017 I find in my mailbox and unexpected contract from ARC that was not in my mailbox at 6:15 pm Jan. 28, 2017.
Opening said package I find a lease contract from ARC in regards to land "I own" in Ritchie County, WV. News to me. As if I am not having enough problems with ARC over the handful of dirt I "inherited" in Doddridge County!
Looking over this contract lets me remember what I have been through with the Doddridge contract. First off, this new contract covers 42 acres, "...lands being situated on the waters (???Land situated on water???) of Brush Run NFHR in the District of Clay, County of Ritchie, State of West Virginia." Parcel numbers are 3-9-6 and 3-9-7.
The contract seems to claim that I had acquired (the land) by Will dated September 22, 1967. That date has no meaning to me. Further into the same paragraph it FALSELY STATES "It being the purpose and intent of Lessor to lease...." How could I I decided to lease property I did not know I own???
Whomever wrote this contract, it is clear they DID NOT have my interests in mind (yes, I am acting "dumb" as I know it was written for a party I will refer to as "ARC".)
On down it is indicated that I am "willing" to share production cost (involving bringing the gas to the surface, transporting, storage of said gas). Maybe they sent the contract to the wrong person??? I want no relationship with ARC and they and their lawyers know it!
No where in this contract do I see a reference to Third Party Liability, and that, if no other reason, makes the contract UNACCEPTABLE! There are several other areas not mentioned in this contract that I have been fighting in the Doddridge contract(s).
Like I stated above, I find WV gas contracts a source of humor. Maybe "they" do not think it is funny, but as I have stated on this website before, I care less about the gas that "may" be under this land. It has been there for some time and is causing no harm. I have no intentions of bringing the gas to the surface and selling it. And now for the "stinger", if someone wants to bring the gas up and sell it the only contract I will agree to is, "AS IS, WHERE IT IS!"
I will put it out here in the open, ARC has a bad safety record in Doddridge County, WV for the last six years, why would I want to become involved with the in Ritchie County (I have not checked their safety record in that county yet). And then there are also the problems the corporation has caused my extended family living in the western US states, such as Colorado.
I see ARC as an undesired tenant, I have no idea if I am the sole owner of this "inherited" property, how much of the stated 42 acres is in my name, who requested that ARC be involved, etc., etc., etc. Some people reading this probably see nothing but $$$ being offered, I see Legal and Financial obligations I am neither prepared or willing to tackle.
So, does anyone reading this know any background in regards to what is currently happening in regards to these two parcels? Does anyone know what has happened in regards to these parcels before "now"?
I would really like to be brought up to speed. RCR 2/6/2017
What is your question? Keep it simple!
You can use the above link to go to the tax records, put in 3 - 9 - 6 and -7 for the D - Map - P search, find the name (or names) go to the document (CSS Central Inquiry) and put in the name(s) you find. See if you find a deed or will or something with this name, then see if it refers to something else. Trace it back to find mineral owners.
Then go forward to see if you find current owners.
Alternatively, put in Antero for your business search (in the document search and select dates for maybe the last month. See what the acreage description on your lease, then see if you see any other leases for that acreage. Check the lease to see if the same parcels. If so you can see if others have signed leases.
You can call the assessor's office and ask about buying a tax map of that number (Clay 9), and see if they sell index maps for that district (Clay index map).
You can go here to the WV Office of Oil and Gas map and see if you can find Ritchie county, and look towards the northeast corner where you can find Clay district. If you have the Clay index map you can look for landmarks, and look around and find those parcels from your Clay 9 map. Then see if you see any wells permitted in the area.
That is a start.
There are a number of undesirable parts of the lease you have been offered, that you have identified. You can tell (by written communication, email or US mail) your landman that you want these changed.
It is really not that expensive to get a lawyer to help with this. WV Mineral Owner knows a good one. He can probably get you enough more money to cover his fee. Then you can avoid the suit.
If you need help with the tax or documents search, please ask. I am happy to answer general questions about this, or perhaps others can. It is a complicated process but not impossible.
At this point in time hiring a lawyer to handle my WV troubles is out of the question due to lack of finances that can be spent on this pointless legal problem. My money is earmarked for food to feed myself, not persons in the business to deal with parties like ARC.
The lease in Ritchie County WV vs the one in Doddridge County are night and day. The Doddridge lease made a reference to Third Party Liability, abandonment, and several other issues, the newer Ritchie contract make no mention in these areas.
The cover letter from ARC's lawyer instructed me to contact a landman (?, or simple a contact for ARC) before Jan 6. I have left three messages within the time frame and no reply. I have sent three letters to their lawyer and no reply.
Rereading your message you mention landmarks in regards to the map, the Doddridge contract has these, the Ritchie contract makes no mention.
From my experience with ARC in Doddrisge County I take this Ritchie contract as just a step on ARC's part on the route to going to court. I have NO reason to believe they are in fact acting in "Good Faith".
("I keep asking on this site for someone to define WV's "Good Faith" law but either no one has replied or if they have I did not receive notification. I have shown several of the messages I have received mentioning good faith and everyone who has seen these message here in Central Ohio believe the people in WV are thinking what someone wants them to think. The local post office told me that the mear act of receiving an unexpected package from the USPS IS NOT GROUNDS for the sender to claim the receiver is obligated to the sender. I keep repeating: From what I am seeing on this board too many people in WV have been feed false information in regards to how they are able to respond to the situation, the Fedaerl law does NOT support what people are claiming the WV "Good Faith" law means!) RCR 2/16/2016
In regards to your mention of "undesirable parts of the lease":
I have been sending letters to Antero and their lawyers for years and they have not address the issues of my concern (which are legit). I have no "Landman", if there is one assigned to the contracts I have received Antero has made no effort to provide me the name of the person, in regards to Doddridge County, and I have left three phone messages to the person whose name was in the cover letter for the Ritchie Contract.
It is quite clear that Antero would rather take a landowner to court and receive access to the property by asking the judge to force the sale of said property as in the long run Antero saves the money that is earmarked for signing fees, royalties, etc.
As I have stated elsewhere in this board, as soon as I began to read the first contract I received I noticed that, while not stated in the contract, I would be held for third party liability. It is implied.
The contract I have received for Ritchie County does not mention liability, does not mention Antero's obligations when they decide to leave the property.
Contracts for both counties also avoid stating that by signing the contract I would become an "associate" of the corporation in regards to developing the well, working the well, transport of the gas, storage of the gas until sold. I have NO REASON to become a "partner" of Antero, and if they are taking money from the royalty I would be due, I would be in fact a partner with the corporation in regards to that well.
To me ARC is not a desirable tenant, I base that on the safety issues that has already developed at site ARC has leased in Doddridge County. Yes, natural gas is highly explosive, but that is the reason I do not want association with that corporation. What happened in Doddridge County in September of 2016 revels that ARC is not only a "low cost" driller but also one that cuts corners, something that can lead to explosions, and employee injury and/or death.
Members of my extended family, which is not the family through which I have become associated in these contracts, have suffered too much thanks to ARC's operations in the western states. They agree with me and now wish they would have noted the problems I have discovered in the contracts with ARC.
Also, the people on this board who claim that simply accepting an unexpected package from an unknown sender (in this case ARC) DOES NOT MAKE ME obligated to what ever is inside the package in the area of agreements of a contract that may be in the package. When you receive such package it is your right to review the contents without obligations to the sender. Why do some residents of WV think otherwise?
Right now i have too many obligations where I live to take the time to travel to WV and due record searches, I do not have a computer and can not afford to take the time to go to a library to go online and find documents, etc. And when it comes to that unassigned handful of dirt in Doddridge County, it is not worth the effort. As for Ritchie, ARC didn't bother to provide me with the information I need to decide what to do. It is written to give the idea I am a sole owner, which I doubt, and that the land was inherited during 1967, which I know is not true.
Not the grounds upon which good relationships are founded. RCR 2/22/2017
You seem to be very distressed due to your newfound minerals and/or interest in lands in Ritchie County, WV! It's regrettable that you have had an unpleasant experience with your minerals in Doddridge County.
Nancy Mosley's reply of February 7 contained sage advice. I would encourage you to find a local Ritchie County oil and gas attorney to help you. One can be easily found by going to the Ritchie County discussion group of this forum.
Perhaps you should consider just selling whatever interest you inherited, and be done with it.
Agree with Bobby Grace.
Link to Scott Windom who is a Ritchie County attorney with a lot of experience with oil and gas in northern West Virginia including Ritchie and Doddridge counties. His phone number is 866-451-9642
There are other good attorneys but if you want someone with experience dealing with Antero in those counties, call him. He does not charge for a first phone call. He is also experienced with selling oil and gas interests, which might be what you want to do. I don't see a good outcome for you with just waiting for Antero to do the right thing.
Everyone is overlooking something. According to the cover letter with the last contract it states that I inherited the Ritchie property back in 1967. I just heard of my "ownership" a month ago.
I did not ask for the property and currently I need to pay attention to what is happening here at home. A person with health problems that has prevented employment since 2009 simply does not have the time or funds to hire lawyers in another state.
I am NOT waiting for ARC to "do the right thing", they were informed during the first phone call they made to me that their contract(s) were unacceptable. They are refusing to even talk to me but they are telling the judge they are doing "everything within their power to come to terms with me".
Translation: Their efforts have been nothing but "Sign the contract or we will take you to court and we will ask the judge to force you to sell the property".
Why can't you people see reality? For me money is VERY tight and ARC comes out of the blue and put me in a position where I could have to pay lawyers, etc., etc., for inheriting property that I know nothing about. I am not a member of the family that owned the land in Dodridge, they are distant recitatives of my mother's and I do not know ANYTHING about the family. So why am I being punished because my mother's mother was from West Virginia???? RCR 2/24/2017
About the part where it says you inherited the property in 1967: I have seen some of their leases, and it states something about the property's having been acquired from somebody by will dated some date. The will, when prepared and signed by somebody, is dated then. The person might die the next day or 40 years later. On that person's death, the actual ownership passes, and when the will if filed and probated is when it is transferred, but not the date signed. However that is how the leases that I have seen are worded. If you recognize the name of the person it says you inherited from, and you know when that person died, that would be the date you acquired an interest. It might have been your grandfather or even further back, and nobody filed the will in Ritchie county because nobody remembered that somebody had retained (reserved) the oil and gas and mineral rights when the surface of the land was sold. So (for example) if the name on the lease, where it says you inherited from, was your grandfather, whatever the will says about inheritance is how the property would be distributed. But maybe the ones who inherited the grandfather's interest did not know that they had mineral interests in Ritchie County so did not notify the county of the death. However now Antero wants to drill in an area where this tract is, and traces all the interest back to the grandpa, or maybe his father or further back, and then finds grandpa's will. Then the process is to go forward to grandpa's heirs, which might be you or your parent or uncle etc. Then they find you. Sometimes somebody marries somebody who inherited something from a grandparent or something, has no children, and the wife or husband dies. But the deceased spouse had inherited, so the living spouse would be the heir. Maybe that one dies and you are the nephew of him. Thus maybe you are the heir of somebody's in-law that you never even knew about but that is the law. That might explain the Doddridge lease, at least how you might have inherited from your mother's distant relative.
I don't like how Antero does these things, sending out leases that are not very good for the one they want to sign the lease, then not being helpful in answering questions and negotiating. But that is how they do. Sometimes they hire a contract landman to get as many leases signed as possible, and that landman sends out a lot of leases. Many times people just sign and return, get their bonus check and that's that. Then there are people such as yourself who knows that there are unfavorable terms in the lease and tries to get them changed. Maybe by this time the landman has moved on to another job (it can happen pretty quickly). In this case, it might be best to speak with someone in the Colorado office, I have been told.
The rules in WV, as I understand, is that they need to see that you have been trying to negotiate a lease, and then the judge probably will tell the company to keep negotiating instead of allowing the partition.
If the companies get their way, the law will be changed to allow forced pooling and leasing after a certain percentage of the owners sign leases. Then you are forced into a lease, with some protections, and the company can drill. This has been fought successfully several years in a row, and there are proposed changes being talked about now. But unless this kind of legislation is passed, the only thing a company can do is to sue for partition. Then everybody's interest can be sold, not just the ones not leased. At least this is what I have been told, or that's what I understand. Anyway they have the most power, but not all the power, and there is a very good judge who has the jurisdiction of Ritchie and Doddridge, so cases in those counties are more likely to be in favor of the mineral owner who is negotiating.
Many attornies will allow a free consulting phone call, and I think many can work their fee so that the bonus money covers the fee with some left over, with better terms in the lease. It might be the best thing you can do, to call one of the attorneys recommended and have a free conversation. If it seems that you really would rather sell your interests, a good attorney could work with you on that, and you would probably have the buyer cover the attorney fees (just guessing here) so you would not need to spend any money.
If you want to find out more about this, I can help you but would need more information. If you want that, either put the information here or send me a friend request and I can help you out of the public eye.
In this case what you have stated could have ended at the end of the first paragraph. The contract mentions no name as the original property owner, no names for following property owners.
Here is the actual wording of the contract:
(Reference made to parcel numbers) "Being also the same interest acquire by the Lessor by Will dated September 22. 1967 and recorded in the Office of the Clerk of the County Commission in the county of Ritchie, State of West Virginia, filed as Deed Book 11, Page 157." That tells me NOTHING! I have no idea as to who's will is being discussed.
Following the above it states: "It being the purpose and intent of the Lessor to lease..." Really? I have major problems with unknown parties sending me unexpected letters telling me what (they think) is my intentions. All these court cases come about because someone fails to put ideas into people's heads that favor the party trying to obtain access to property without having to pay a single cent. My situation came about because THEY failed, the owner was fully aware that he had no knowledge of owning the land and now wants to know all the facts before taking a stand on the situation.
Far to many people have lost everything they owned because they did not take the time to learn ALL of the facts before signing an unsolicited contract. As I have stated throughout my discussions on this web site, I have seen a person lose a house custom built a year before because someone he did not know, a person from another area, set off for an advertised event the person was involved with, and caused an auto accident.
This event had all the people in Central Ohio who took part in auto meets asking how that could happen. Now we are well aware of the Third Party Liability aspects of the law. The person who lost the house was the president of a car club and the club's officers listed the event in a national auto enthusiast magazine and that made the club liable. And since the club was not incorporated as an LLC the club officers were required to pay.
I have since seen the same results for something as simple as a local band handing two guys to "post" an upcoming appearance of the band. The band failed to realize that as a result of that action the band had "employed" the two guys and were responsible for accidents/problems the guys caused (they plastered any surface that could hold a tack for more then a mile down the street next to a major college. The last 100 yards was the property of the college and the band was sued for the cost of removing the fliers.)
There are endless numbers of variations of this Third Party Liability in which a unsuspecting party gets sued. Considering the fact that signing a contract with ARC gives the Lessor NO VOICE in the operations, the nature of the substance they are collecting, and ARC's safety record, why would anyone agree to one of their contracts?
Are all of the people on this board so greedy for money that they don't bother to think of what could go wrong??? What I find interesting is the first contract I received from ARC for property in Doddridge County came right out and stated the corporation would not be held responsible for injury or death of one of their employees while on the job. That means, though they did not take the "trouble" of stating it, the Lessor would be held responsible in a court of law.
And the state of West Virginia and the fools that sign such contracts are doing nothing to prevent this.
And what I have stated above is only the FIRST problem I found with ARC's contracts...
For some reason it appears that the state of WV does not make it easy to locate the property title unless you show up in person. I know NOTHING about the property in question
Whereas I didn't have the time to "dissect" everything you were saying, these nice people did, and have given you the best advice you can get for FREE.
I would take their "sage" advice and make use of it.
I don't need "free" advise in the order of "Hire an attorney" as I do not have the funds, or in reality, the interest. No one who may or may not be co-owners of said property has contacted me in the last two years (from receiving the first contract) to explain how I ended up with legal problems in WV.
As far as i am concerned the gas or what ever it is they want has been under the property since long before I was born. It presences does not bother me (since I doubt if I am an owner of the property anyway) so let it stay in the ground.
I keep repeating: I do not see $$$ like other people, I see it as a legal hassle. I am being taken to court because someone wants to give me "royalty" AFTER I help pay for a well, transportation, and storage until sold. That makes me a PARTNER and I refuse to be connected to ARC.
If someone wants the minerals under the property, don't send me a contract slanted in their favor. If they want whatever it is then I set the contract: AS IS WHERE IT IS. Collect it, pay me for the amount that is pumped out of the ground, and then remove their junk and equipment for the piece of property I am told I own.
With all the people on this web site and their "advice" it seems odd that none have been involved in lawsuits because they were a third party but find out they are the ones being held for liability that should have been picked up by the lessee, NOT the Lessor! I have been way to close to such cases for the last thirty years, I know what can happen. Wake up people! rcr2/24/2017