Property Rights Organization

WBI Natural Gas Storage

By Wanda Pinnow

   In April many Fallon County residents, city and rural, received letters from WBI Energy Transmissions asking them to sign an agreement for a natural gas storage field. The field in Fallon County first originated in 1946. Our field is the third largest in the world and the largest in the United States. The 90,000 acre field, which lies in the Judith Basin formation, goes north of Little Beaver to the Wibaux County line. Yes, it passes right through most of Baker.

   The reason for WBI asking landowners to sign a new easement is that in 2014, Montana State law changed due to a court case of a landowner challenging an oil company on underground storage. The new law, MT Code 82-11-180, 10-301(3), states now that the landowner owns the space not the mineral owner. Previously, WBI got the mineral owners’ permission to lease the formation, with the law changed they must get permission from the landowner. If you are the current landowner and did not receive a letter, that means the previous landowner already gave WBI the right to store natural gas. This would have showed up as an easement when you bought the property when a title search was done.

   Two public meetings have been held – first one May 6 and the second one May 26. From these meetings a committee was selected to negotiate a lease agreement with WBI representatives. The group members are Kevin Braun, Cindy Atkins, Dustin Krech, Mike Griffith, Dave Havens, and Wanda Pinnow. Please contact any one of these committee members if you have questions. The county attorney and city attorney along with the county commissioners are part of our group.

   If you received a letter, please do not ignore it. By doing that, WBI will just pay the amount promised and get their easement. The written easement they sent you is a blanket easement giving them too much control over your surface and the storage space. They do not need that much control. The group is not telling WBI no to storage, we have told them we need a language change in the contract. The more people we have the louder our voice is.