Hello, I’m Russell Schetroma, an energy lawyer with Steptoe & Johnson. I’d like to spend a few minutes talking with you about Appalachian title and how it differs from title in other regions of the United States. There is a lot of shale activity in Appalachia and there are many companies moving to Appalachia from the mid continent and the western parts of the United States. Those companies bring incredible technological expertise and broad land expertise in their regions. Doing title and doing land work in Appalachia, however, is different than title in mid continent and western parts of the state. You must start with understanding that the Appalachian states have had private land title back into the 1600s. Our citizens have been working at making title defective a lot longer than people in most other parts of the United States. As a consequence, there are many unique abstracting and title review issues that will be encountered in Appalachia that will not be seen in other parts of the state. Examples are legion. For example, Pennsylvania’s Dunham rule in which the word “minerals” does not include oil and gas in many cases. Or a Pennsylvania title wash arising out of the time when we had different assessment systems and different kinds of land in which an abstractor who does not know the problem can totally miss an outstanding oil and gas chain. These unique factors need to be known by the abstractors employed by the land service companies you bring to Appalachia to work on Appalachian title. They also need to be known by the law firms that are providing title opinions to you, and those firms need to have the depth of understanding of the title jurisprudence of their states so that they can properly guide you in evaluating risk.
Steptoe & Johnson was founded to service the energy industry. We have a profound depth of understanding of Appalachian energy jurisprudence and title law. We have expertise in each of the states in which we practice, and we have one of the largest oil, gas and coal title review operations in Appalachia. Based upon our expertise, we stand ready to train your land service companies in the peculiarities of performing quality Appalachian abstracting. If you prefer, we have a substantial team of firm employed abstractors to serve your needs. We then, will provide to you all of the opinions that clearly and accurately analyze the deviations in your title from proper record title and, at your request, will consult in your evaluation of the risk of the various defects identified in our opinions. We believe that title services through Steptoe & Johnson are unique in the region. We invite you to visit our website or better yet, call to arrange for an appointment at one of our offices where a representative of our title group will be glad to help you see how Steptoe can provide unique services to your company in this region.