Can a mineral interest (working interest) be abandoned

I have been dealing with a law firm representing Antero that has offered a nominal amount for a working interest held by production that was originally purchased by my grandfather in the early 60's.

I have tried to get a better offer from them, but they are not moving much at all, stating that their offer is good through tomorrow, then they will be moving to litigation. They say that their position is that this working interest is abandoned.

Do they have a leg to stand on, and what would be my best strategy at this point?

Also, they only want the deep rights. Being as there are several producing wells on the tract, could we be due significant back royalties?


Have you researched this at all? Here is a link to the Doddridge county online records. Not all are here but some are. If you haven't done so already, you should research this as far as you can.

A working interest is an interest in the well (or in the whole leasehold interest). The "whole" inteest is 100%. Traditionally, the royalty interest was 1/8, (12.5%) and the working interest was 7/8 (87.5%). Sometimes the company (who owned the "working interest" on a property while the landowner or sometimes the mineral rights owner owned the royalty interest) would sell a portion of the working interest to an investor. Sometimes just for one well. From what you wrote, it sounds like it was not just one well that your grandfather had interest in. Antero may need to get your interest to clear up its title to drill a Marcellus well. They must have bought some rights in leases, probably just the rights for the deeper wells.

Not sure how the "abandoned" part fits in. Maybe in not paying taxes on it? This is beyond my level of knowledge.

Thanks for the reply, Nancy.

Yes, I have researched it and found where the 2 parcels are, and they both have producing wells on them. I also have a copy of the lease.

However, it is still confusing and difficult to get any definitive information on how to value a working interest like this. Antero is insisting that they will go to court to try to get this interest deemed abandoned, and is only offering $500 for what amounts to 1.5 acres of working interest (my portion among the other heirs).

The lease does not specify by well, just a 1/16 interest in the lower 50 of the John Walton farm tract and lower 50 of Mary Walton farm tract in New Milton District.

I don't know if Antero can really do this, or is just trying to impose another false deadline, like the two week one when they approached us several months ago.

Could indeed be that they are just trying to pressure you on this.

You may need to get a lawyer involved.

Now Antero is suing me and about 45 other owners of working interests on these two parcels that did not sell out to them for nominal amounts. They are claiming that we abandoned our working interests that are held by production.

Has this happened to anyone here and how is it best handled?

It is my understanding that many operators will continue to pay a nominal amount for non-producing wells in order to hold the contract in place for future royalties to be minimized.

Lawyers are grand!

I agree with Stephanie P on this: I think you need a lawyer to help.