Pennsylvania natural gas drillers on hook for impact fees after ruling

Written by The Associated Press | Jan 3, 2019 10:42 AM

FILE PHOTO: A drilling rig is set up to tap gas from the Marcellus Shale gas field, near a barn in the Susquehanna County township of Springville, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Harrisburg) -- Natural gas companies are expected to be on the hook for millions of dollars in unpaid state "impact fees" after a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports state utility regulators are generating invoices for some 17 shale gas producers that had challenged fees on some of their wells amid a legal dispute with the state.

The dispute centered on what counts as a "stripper well," or a well that is nearing the end of its life. Such wells are exempt from annual impact fees.

Drillers had argued for a more expansive definition of the term, meaning more wells would be exempt from the fees, but the Supreme Court disagreed.

The Public Utility Commission estimates the decision involves hundreds of wells and millions of dollars in fees.

An industry group plans to ask the justices to reconsider.

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