2015 Legislative Updates
HB 2058 Coalbed methane gas; release of funds held in escrow or suspense (approved March 23, 2015 / effective July 1, 2015)
Coalbed methane gas; release of funds held in escrow or suspense. Requires an operator of a previously pooled coalbed methane gas well to request, by the beginning of 2016, the release of any funds held in escrow or suspense to the person who possesses a claim through a gas title. A coal claimant may halt such a release of funds by providing evidence that the coal and gas claimants have reached an agreement or that a proceeding against the gas claimant is pending. For a well that is pooled after July 1, 2015, the bill requires the operator to pay royalties directly to the gas claimant unless the coal claimant provides evidence of an agreement or a proceeding within a certain time. The Virginia Oil and Gas Board, under certain conditions, is authorized to extend the time for the payment of funds held in escrow and is not required to order payment if the gas claimant fails to provide information needed by the Board in order to distribute the funds. The bill also provides that it shall not create a fiduciary duty or extinguish any cause of action, including an action for an accounting.
Link to: HB 2058 - Virginia Legislative Information System / HB 2058 - PDF
IRS W-9 Tax Form
As documented by testimony from the First Bank & Trust Company (the current Virginia Gas and Oil Board approved Escrow Agent) at the April 17, 2015, Virginia Gas and Oil Board Hearing -- all recipients of disbursement checks must have an IRS W-9 Form on file at the bank prior to the disbursement payment.
Generally, the operating companies will provide W-9 Forms to all disbursement payees. Disbursement payees should sign the W-9 Form and return it to the operating company preparing the disbursement petition.
If addition copies are needed, the W-9 Tax Form may be downloaded directly from the IRS website at the link below:
1. visit the IRS web site linked below,
2. download and fill out the "current" W-9 Form,
3. send the completed W-9 Form to the operating company preparing the disbursement petition,
4. once received, the operating company will forward the completed W-9 Form to the bank.
Link to: IRS website / Form W-9
Note that the operating companies are instructed to not include individuals on the disbursement petition that do not have a completed W-9 Form on file.
Additional information - Virginia Gas and Oil Board Escrow Estimator
For additional information that may be used to assist in determining escrow fund ownership or the claim of ownership, including:
- an interactive map of all producing gas wells and escrowed production units, with address location and well name search tools;
- a "Board Documents" search tool to allow individuals to search for names, locations, or any text item of their choice;
- report of data sets including escrowed unit operating company, gas well operation name, and the associated Virginia Gas and Oil Board docket number used to access legal and supporting documents;
- scanned .PDF copies of Board Documents (including Virginia Gas and Oil Board Pooling, Supplemental, and Disbursement Orders) that provide certified plats of the gas well production units, tract identification data with acreage, lists of gas estate and coal estate owners, and escrowed parties with acreage owned;
- an interactive calculator to estimate owned or claimed escrowed funds based on Docket Number for the escrowed unit and acreage owned;
please visit the Virginia Virginia Gas and Oil Board Escrow Estimator internet database by clicking on the highlighted link.
Note that all the data in the Escrow Estimator and Escrow Agent (Bank) Summaries are organized by docket number.