We inherited 140 acres in Tioga County , PA from our mother. In March of 1981 she had signed a mineral lease with 60 acres in a pool. A well was drilled within the unit, not on this property, that many years ago but has never been touched. There is no pipeline to it and local gas company people say it is a dry well. The lease states that a rental payment will be made annually. We have not received that payment since 2004. We recently had a lawyer contact the company asking for the lease to be terminated due to numerous reasons which include failure of consideration, failure to pay royalties and failure to conform with the terms and conditions of the lease. Their lawyer wrote back stating the lease remains in full force and effect, however he never mentioned the royalty/rental payment. The well that has never been used is almost 30 years old and is preventing us from signing a current lease where drilling is certainly going to take place. What more can we do and do we have a valid argument?
I’m by no means an expert on this, but in Oklahoma once a well is not producing it should be shutdown. We never sign leases that have clauses to extend the lease past the productive life of a well, but if we had I would be contacting our oil and gas attorney right now and pursuing getting the well shutdown and the lease released due to all the things you specified. If the other party in the lease has broken the lease, then, yes, you have a valid concern and depending on your state statutes for oil and gas, may be able to get the court to release you from that lease. Our family would consider this worth pursuing and would seek to have the other party pay all the court costs and attorney fees. I know this is not legal advice, but from a family that has many wells producing and post-production, we would be very interested in getting a solution in our favor on this and would be willing to pursue it legally.