In a closely watched case involving hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court today (1/22/20) by a vote of 5-2 held that the rule of capture remains effective in Pennsylvania to protect a developer from trespass liability where there has been no physical invasion of another’s property.
PIOGA joined with the Marcellus Shale Coalition and royalty owners in filing a “friend of the court” (or amicus) brief in support of the appeal of Southwestern Energy Production Company, now known as SWN Production Company, LLC.  Many other industry participants also filed amicus briefs.

PIOGA is still reviewing the opinions, but notes that the Supreme Court did not reinstate the common pleas court’s final decision in favor of Southwestern. Instead, because of the “multiple infirmities” in the Superior Court’s opinion reversing the trial court’s decision, the Supreme Court remanded the case to Superior Court to determine, based on the record, whether a physical intrusion into the Briggs’ subsurface property occurred.

The February issue of The PIOGA Press will provide a more in-depth analysis of the decision. In the meantime, the Supreme Court’s opinions can be downloaded below.