Dimock, Pa. Verdict Overturned

By:  Michael K. Reer


On March 31, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania overturned a $4.24 million verdict related to alleged contamination from unconventional development activities. The Scranton, Pennsylvania jury found in favor of nine plaintiffs who claim that an operator’s drilling activities at two gas wells in Susquehanna County was negligent and caused compensable nuisance injuries by interfering with and damaging access to well water.

Specifically, the Court found that “the weaknesses in the plaintiffs’ case and proof, coupled with serious and troubling irregularities in the testimony and presentation of the plaintiffs’ case – including repeated and regrettable missteps by counsel in the jury’s presence – combined so thoroughly to undermine faith in the jury’s verdict that it must be vacated and a new trial ordered. Moreover, the jury’s award of more than $4 million in damages for private nuisance bore no discernable relationship to the evidence, which was at best limited; and even were the Court to find that the jury’s verdict of liability should stand, the Court can perceive no way in which the jury’s damages award could withstand even passing scrutiny regardless of the applicable standard of review.”

The Court found that the evidence demonstrated “convincingly” that problems with the plaintiffs’ water supply began prior to the development of the wells at issue. “The plaintiffs all acknowledged that they experienced problems with the water in their wells at least a month before Cabot started to drill on the Gesford pads. This manifest problem of ‘cause and effect’ was never adequately explained by the plaintiffs, who time and again either evaded this issue, attempted to impeach their own stipulation, or endeavored to provide some alternative explanation for their own prior representations.”
Thursday, April 13, 2017

PA Wells, Gas Production Increase

By: Michael K. Reer

On March 2, 2017, the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office released its 2016 4th Quarter Natural Gas Production Report. The IFO found that production of natural gas increased 6.8% in Pennsylvania in 2016. Pennsylvania operators drilled just 504 horizontal wells in 2016, the lowest number since IFO tracking began in 2011. Despite the low number of spud wells, IFO found significant signs of an industry rebound. For example, the number of wells spud by quarter reached a low point in the second quarter of 2016 (72) before noticeably rebounding in the third (146) and fourth (176) quarters. Moreover, the number of spud but not completed wells fell 5.1% in 2016 as operators completed wells drilled in prior years. Also, production from wells spud in 2014 began declining in 2016, by nearly 2%, which may incentivize operators to drill additional wells.

Susquehanna and Washington counties were the top producing counties in 2016, followed by Bradford, Greene, Lycoming, Wyoming, Tioga, Butler, Sullivan, and Fayette. The Commonwealth currently trails only Texas in domestic natural gas production.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced March 3, 2017 that the Department has launched an iPad app for electronic field inspections at oil and natural gas production sites. The app will replace paper and clipboard inspections and allow operators to receive inspection results concerning erosion and sedimentation, waterways encroachment, waste management, and spill cleanup in a more timely fashion.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Recent Posts

Tags

Archive

The Oil & Gas Law Blog is made available for educational purposes only and to give you general information as well as a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. Use of this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and any of the blog contributors or Harris Finley & Bogle. The Oil & Gas Law Blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.