West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry Keeps Pushing to Whittle Away Payments to Residents
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West Virginia’s Natural Gas Industry Keeps Pushing to Whittle Away Payments to Residents

Ken Ward Jr |
November 13, 2018

Companies are deducting “post-production” costs or creating shell companies to reduce royalty payments. The firms say they have done nothing wrong.


For decades, Arnold and Mary Richards collected monthly royalty checks — most recently from $1,000 to $1,500 — for the natural gas sucked up from beneath their West Virginia farm by small, old wells.

So in 2016, when EQT Corp. drilled six new gas wells, the Ritchie County couple expected to see their royalty payments skyrocket. The much-larger wells would collect far more natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, which is fueling the boom in the state’s gas industry.

The Richards’ checks did grow considerably. But the couple also saw something they didn’t expect: EQT was cutting the size of those new checks.

EQT began deducting for what it said was the cost of transporting the gas, for processing the gas and even for state taxes. All told, since November 2016, the Richardses calculated they were missing about $235,000 in royalties.

Credit by - Pro Publica

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