West Virginia community claims fracking company short-changed on royalty fees

Members of one West Virginia community are suing a company conducting hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling for natural gas in the area over unpaid royalty payments.

According to a report from The Intelligencer and Wheeling (W. Va.) News-Register newspapers, a group of residents in Marshall County have filed a lawsuit against AB Resources, the former driller at several sites in the region. Since filing the lawsuit, AB’s operations in the area have been purchased by Chevron. The lawsuit, specifically naming AB Resources and not Chevron, claims the driller made illegal deductions from its formula to determine how much in royalties the company must pay the government which allowed the drilling.

Marshall County agreed to fracking drilling for natural gas on at least one condition, that the community receive a percentage of the value of the resources gained from their land. That percentage had been set at 12.5 percent ineligible for discounts. That royalty amount is determined by state law.

Instead, the class filing the lawsuit claims AB has been deducting 12-15 percent from each of its royalty checks to the state and intentionally misleading the public to believe they were receiving the full amount. The lawsuit claims the state has been shorted more than $1 million by AB for more than a year’s worth of drilling.