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Conference hopes to give royalty owners first-hand insight

By Caitlin Cook, Staff writer

“We are drilling more wells,” said Bob Hart, president of the National Association of Royalty Owners Appalachian’s area chapter. “Three years ago, there was a lot more leasing,” Hart said of the oil and gas industry in Appalachia.

That’s why the NARO’s fourth annual Appalachian conference next week at The Greenbrier will focus more on infrastructure projects and landowner property when a company starts its projects.

“Companies are starting to develop their properties and drill wells now,” Hart said.

In the past, the conference, which attracts royalty owners, attorneys and certified public accountants, focused on the beginning stages of leasing land.

Hart said two NARO members will share their experiences about pipelines crossing through their property.

“They are very substantial projects, which will benefit the royalty owners in the area, because it will allow gas to move out of the area,” Hart said.

In August, Columbia Pipeline Group announced a $1.75 billion infrastructure project, including a new pipeline in West Virginia and Ohio. The approximately 160-mile project, known as the Leach XPress, would begin in Marshall County and flow southwest into Ohio.

This week, four major energy companies announced they are coming together for a new 550-mile pipeline project that starts in Harrison County and flows southeast to Virginia and then North Carolina.

The influx of new pipeline projects will help royalty owners by reducing the surplus of gas held in the Marcellus and Utica shales, Hart said.

A company that constructs pipelines for the oil and gas industry will be there to answer questions.

“People are just fearful of what might happen,” Hart said. “We just want to put it out there and have experts talk to them and let them know what happens.”

Hart expects about 100 to 200 people to attend the event.

One landowner will share their experience about a well being drilled on their property.

The conference will also welcome certified public accountants from Pittsburgh who specialize in oil and gas estate planning.

Hart said members are now beginning to see large royalty checks, and the CPAs are there to help them discover how best to manage that.

On Monday, attendees will enjoy a bit of history.

The documentary “Burning Springs, Oil and Gas Industry’s Beginning” will show that afternoon.

“It highlights how important West Virginia has been for the oil and gas industry for the world,” Hart said of the documentary.

That evening, Michael Benedum’s legacy as a philanthropist and oil pioneer will be celebrated with the performance “An Evening with The Great Wildcatter, Michael Benedum.”

Benedum, a Bridgeport native, said money was never really his thing; he was just a steward of it, Hart recalled.

“He didn’t believe in failure,” Hart said of Benedum. “And he did the right thing.”

Reach Caitlin Cook at caitlin.cook@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5113 or follow @caitlincookWV on Twitter.


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