Our O&G mineral rights are in Marshall County, WV. In 2017 we signed a 5 yr lease with APP (American Petroleum Partners) and it also included an option for APP to execute a 3 yr lease extension should they choose to do so. The original 5 yr lease expires in one week (May 8, 2022). Yesterday (much to our surprise), we received a bonus check from SWN Production Company for the 3 yr lease extension option. We had no idea that our lease with APP had been sold to SWN as there was never any correspondence from either company informing us of the sale or purchase of our original lease. So my first question is: how do you keep track of your lease when it is sold several times over the course of the lease period? Is there a state or govt. website that keeps track of these lease sales? My primary reason for asking this is because SWN is withholding money for federal income tax (which is completely understandable and we would want them to do so), but they are also withholding extra money from our gross payment and telling us they we have to pay a penalty because they did not have our taxpayer identification information. We have just filled out a W-9 form, and will be providing that to SWN immediately. Had we been notified that SWN was the new lessee we would have provided that information early on. Just curious how companies can just sell your lease multiple times and never inform you of the transaction, and then tell you that you have to pay a penalty because they didn’t have your tax information. Appreciate any insight to this issue… thx for your time.
Tracking your O&G lease when it's sold to another company
If your county has digital online files, you may be able to track your lease sales through their system. They are under no obligation to tell you that it is sold unless that clause is in your lease. Not sure about the penalty for no W-9. My state does not do that. Many times a new operator will contact the mineral owner and request a W-9.
mjbw, I just found leases beginning at Book 1133 and page 656 on the Marshall Co site between SWN and APP. Check it out and see if they are any of yours.
Thanks for your reply M_Barnes. I’ve been looking at the Marshall County WV recorded documents database, but its like finding a needle in a hay stack… the search functions are somewhat limited.
Hi dome… thanks for the info. I’ve been looking at the Marshall County WV recorded documents database and haven’t had any luck thus far. I did search on Book 1133 as you suggested and looked at pages 654 to 675, but none of those SWN leases are mine. Will keep looking at other pages within Book 1133 and see if I can find anything.
When you signed the lease with APP, it does state that the Lessee has the right to sell, assign etc… unless you had that modified. The Lessee does not have to notify you of that change unless you modified the lease otherwise. If SWN (Southwestern Energy) paid you your renewal, they are the new owners of the said lease. Note: SWN can not make any changes to the APP lease. Same lease as you signed at first.
Thx Nick_C… appreciate the info. The problem was not that it was sold, we just thought the new company would inform us at the time of purchase. I guess there are probably thousands of O&G leases that are sold, flipped or traded every month, so I can understand why companies might not contact the lessor for every transaction. Also, since my original post we have found out that the “penalty” SWN was referring to is that they are required by law to withhold 24% of our gross proceeds for ‘back withholding’ for federal taxes because they didn’t have a W-9 from us. That has since been corrected. This is not a big issue as we will get those monies back next year when we file our federal return.
Going forward, if you lease property, demand that the company add a clause that says they must give notice of assignment, then you might get notified.
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