Forced pooling, a hot-button natural gas industry issue that grabbed headlines during the recent West Virginia Legislative Session, will be discussed in detail during two upcoming educational programs presented by the West Virginia University Extension Service.

The free educational sessions, entitled “Understanding Unitization of Interests, or ‘Forced Pooling,’” will be hosted on July 7 and July 8 in Ohio and Doddridge counties, respectively.

Representatives of the WVU College of Law and members of the West Virginia Legislature will address questions surrounding the subject, including: What is forced pooling? Who benefits? What does it mean to be “forced”?

“Unitization of Interests, also known as forced pooling, is common in many forms throughout the United States. and already occurs for drilling in the deeper shale formations in West Virginia,” said Georgette Plaugher, program coordinator of the WVU Extension Service Oil and Natural Gas Education Program.

Plaugher said that the concept and purpose of pooling interests or resources is to benefit mineral owners, as it provides a greater supply of product and ultimately a better financial return. However, she said the controversy occurs when people feel like their rights are being violated because they are being “forced” into doing something they do not want to do.

“The goal of this educational program is to provide the public the information they need to make an informed decision on whether or not they support or oppose forced pooling,” Plaugher said.

Joshua Fershee, a law professor at the WVU College of Law with expertise in energy law, along with experts from the WVU Extension Service, will be on hand to discuss the opportunities and concerns accompanying the forced pooling issue.

“Forced pooling is about balancing many ownership interests, and how people understand that balance will inform their views on the issue. Forced pooling was heavily discussed this past legislative session with the introduction of House Bill 2688, which ultimately did not pass; however, I anticipate further legislative discussion on the forced pooling issue next year,” said Fershee.

Plaugher said that public opinion will be important during the 2016 legislative session when the issue of forced pooling will again arise.

The first session is on Tuesday, July 7, at 6 p.m. at the Blaskovich Community Center in Triadelphia. Contact Ohio County WVU Extension Service Agent Karen Cox for directions at 304-234-3673.

The second session is on Wednesday, July 8, at 6 p.m. at the Doddridge County Park in West Union. For directions, contact Doddridge County WVU Extension Service Agriculture Agent Dave Snively at 304-873-1801.

There will be a question and answer session following each informational presentation.

With natural gas opportunities on the mind of property owners across the state, WVU Extension Service’s Oil and Natural Gas Team aims to provide unbiased programming based on expertise and knowledge to help the citizens of West Virginia make informed decisions about the natural gas industry.

For more general information about the sessions, contact Georgette Plaugher at 304-329-1391, visit or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.



CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service

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