The Sanford Herald did in fact report on the Compulsory Pooling Study Group meeting last Friday (find the link to the story here). Good to see that the mortgage lending issue was discussed, and that Lee County at least has mapped where split estates lie along with what mineral leases are in place.
The Sanford Herald also have a piece in today’s paper on the Landowners’ gathering in Sanford last night. Presenters spoke about their experience or their reasons for weariness of fracking in the area: are adequate protections in place for the environment? are adequate protections in place for property owners? are adequate protocols in places for when (not if, but when) something goes wrong? The highlight of the evening came when the co-founder of NC Oil and Gas, Rob Knight, challenged the interpretation of SB 820: Mr Harris, who organized the meeting, responded very even-keeled by turning the page in the document and read directly from the bill. The two exchanged words very respectfully on the interpretation of the bill, each saying the other was wrong.
Here’s the problem: Mr. Knight was saying that Mr. Harris was wrong, but it was Mr. Harris who was reading the law. If Mr. Harris was indeed misinterpreting, and Mr Knight knew where the interpretation was off, then he needs to clarify that point, and do so with documentation in the legislation itself. He claimed that NC Oil and Gas was formed to help protect landowners, and if they have protection to offer the weary people gathered in that room, they need to state what resources they can offer. Unfortunately, when Mr. Knight had the attention of the room, he was preoccupied trying to give a history lesson on North Carolina’s antiquated oil laws and the technology of fracking instead of speaking on what property owners’ current situation is. I commend Mr. Harris for not only running a good meeting with some vocal people in attendance but also for being informed.
For now, there seem to be some very profound questions for property owners that the Compulsory Pooling Study Group, MEC, or the Attorney General’s office needs to address and communicate to the public:
- What is the status quo in regards to forced pooling?
- What course of action will a property owner have when compelled to pool his/her mineral rights? (In other words, once compelled to pool their rights, will the compelled owner have time to negotiate terms of the pool’s lease? Do they have time to negotiate their own lease?)
- What is the threshold to compel property into a pool? What will the basis of that threshold be: number of properties with a lease? amount of acreage with a lease? amount of mineral resource under/not under lease? access to other resources or infrastructure, like water or roads?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but these seem like some basic questions that property owners in the area should have answers to, or at least know that these questions are being discussed.