West Virginia Record

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Heirs look to protect oil and gas rights allegedly reserved in 1913 property sale

By Carrie Salls | Apr 12, 2017

Oildrill 05

MOUNDSVILLE – A dispute over the ownership of the oil and gas rights under a 25-acre parcel of land in Sand Hill District, Marshall County, resulted in the filing of a lawsuit filed by the heirs of the man who originally sold the land in 1913 but allegedly reserved the rights to the oil and gas under the property.  

According to the complaint filed Feb. 23 in the Marshall Circuit Court against Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC, Columbia Energy Ventures LLC, John D. Junkins and Carol M. Junkins, Henry Jacobs and his wife Maria sold the parcel of land in question on March 25, 1913, “reserving unto themselves the oil and gas underlying the…tract of land, together with the right to operate for same.”

The property was sold again in 1916 and in 1920, with each sale agreement specifying that Jacobs and his wife had reserved the oil and gas running under the property, the suit states.

In 1947, the Marshall County Clerk conveyed the land to Ellsworth Junkins for payment of delinquent taxes owed by John E. King, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs allege that Ellsworth Junkins and his wife leased the 25 acres in 1950 to The Manufacturers Light and Heat Co., now Columbia Gas Transmission, for 10 years “or so long as operations for oil and gas were being conducted.” The Junkins entered another lease with Manufacturers Light and Heat in 1960 that allowed for exploration, drilling, production and marketing of gas.

“Ellsworth Junkins and Lucy Junkins, his wife, did not own the oil and gas within and underlying the 25-acre surface tract and therefore did not have the right to lease same,” the complaint states.

The Junkins sold the 25-acre parcel to the Wheeling Creek Watershed Protection and Flood Protection Commission in 1972, stating in that agreement that the Jacobs reserved the oil and gas under the land.

Through the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the two leases and a related 2010 ratification are void and confirm that the Jacobs heirs own the interests in the oil and gas under the property.

In addition, the plaintiffs are asking the court to rule that the Junkins did not have the right to allow Columbia Gas to use gas formations under the property and to grant an injunction against drilling and use of the gas.

The plaintiffs are also seeking damages for intentional trespass and conversion, as well as restitution and attorney’s fees.

The case is Judy L. Snyder, Danny L. Jacobs, et al. v. Columbia Gas Transmission LLC, Columbia Energy Ventures, John D. Junkins and Carol M. Junkins.

Marshall Circuit Court case number 17-c-35

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