On April 24, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in the Butler v. Charles Powers Estate case. The Supreme Court decided to maintain the status quo in Pennsylvania by reaffirming the application of the Dunham Rule, meaning that there will not be a sea change in the Commonwealth regarding the interpretation of oil and gas conveyances.
The Dunham Rule requires that, for an interest in oil and gas rights to be reserved in a deed, the term “natural gas” must be specified in the reservation. At issue in the case was whether a reservation of “minerals” in an 1882 deed included Marcellus Shale gas. The trial court applied the Dunham Rule to find that the reservation did not include Marcellus Shale gas. Continue reading