Drilling boom creates long lines in West Virginia

MIDDLEBOURNE, W.Va. — A natural gas drilling boom is creating long lines at the Tyler County Courthouse as companies seek to verify the titles of properties they are leasing.

The records room has a limited number of spaces, two of which are left open for local attorneys and residents who need to do business, County Commission President John Stender said.

That leaves oil and gas companies’ representatives jostling for a place in line.

“Some of these people are showing up and putting chairs out there, and one person last night put a can of fruit, saving spots so they can get in in the mornings,” Stender told The State Journal.

Subcontractors have advertised for people to stand in line for their employees, he said.

Some subcontractors’ employees “aren’t very nice. They’re pushy,” Stender said. But representatives of the bigger companies are respectful, and at least one company’s representatives tend to be local residents.

County officials want to find a solution because the drilling activity is in the best interests of the companies, the mineral owners and the taxpayers, he said.

“All the people coming in to work at the courthouse eat at the restaurants, they buy gas. It’s a win for the taxpayers and the ones that get the contracts and the companies, and we want to help them,” Stender said. “We’re more than happy to work with anybody, if they’ll meet us and work with us.”

The County Commission has spoken to one company about the problem and plans to meet with two others this week.

Stender said a possible solution is to extend the records room’s hours.