Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
7/2/2022

Chapter 165. Regulations Governing the Use of Arbitration to Resolve Coalbed Methane Gas Ownership Disputes

4VAC25-165-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this regulation shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

"Accrued interest" means funds accrued during the preceding 36 months on total proceeds held in the general escrow account. Accrued interest does not include escrow account fees or administrative costs of the board related to the general escrow account.

"Act" means the Virginia Gas and Oil Act of 1990, Chapter 16 ( § 45.2-1600 et seq.) of Title 45.2 of the Code of Virginia.

"Arbitrator" means a qualified individual appointed by a court to render a determination in an ownership dispute concerning coalbed methane gas.

"Board" means the Virginia Gas and Oil Board.

"Claimant" means a person or entity in a dispute over ownership of coalbed methane gas who has agreed to arbitration to resolve the dispute.

"Court" means a circuit court in the Commonwealth of Virginia wherein the majority of the subject tract of land is located.

"Department" means the Department of Energy.

"Escrow account" means the account established by the board pursuant to § 45.2-1620 and subdivision 2 of § 45.2-1622 of the Code of Virginia.

"Ex parte communication" means any form of communication between an arbitrator and a claimant without the presence of the opposing claimant.

"Operator" means the gas or oil owner designated by the board to operate in or on a pooled unit.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-20. Costs of arbitration.

Arbitrations shall be funded from accrued interest. The department shall determine on a case-by-case basis if sufficient funds exist to conduct an arbitration. Sufficiency of funds shall be determined by the amount of accrued interest available at the time arbitration is requested, less estimated costs of pending arbitrations. If sufficient funds are not available, the department shall maintain a waiting list of parties willing to arbitrate.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-361.15 and 45.1-361.22:1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013.

4VAC25-165-30. Qualification of arbitrators.

The department shall review all applications from potential arbitrators pursuant to § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia. Applications shall be submitted on a form prescribed by the department. In order to qualify, applicants must demonstrate substantial expertise in mineral title examination. Substantial expertise shall be determined on an individual basis. The department shall notify applicants deemed to be qualified.

The department shall maintain a list of qualified arbitrators and update it annually. The list shall be supplied to the court when the board issues an order for arbitration. Pursuant to § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia, the court has the discretion to appoint an individual not on the list of qualified arbitrators.

In order to maintain a current, accurate list, qualified arbitrators shall at least annually update their disclosures to the department.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-40. Agreement to arbitrate.

Claimants shall submit their request of arbitration to the board on a form prescribed by the department. Claimants shall also provide an affidavit pursuant to § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-50. Conflicts of interest.

In addition to the limitations set forth in § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia, an arbitrator may not hear an arbitration if the arbitrator is related to one of the claimants, has a personal interest in the subject of the arbitration, or if other circumstances exist that might affect the arbitrator's ability to render a fair determination. If evidence of a conflict exists under this section, a claimant may petition the court to appoint a different arbitrator.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-60. Location.

The arbitrator shall determine an appropriate time and place for the arbitration. The arbitration shall take place in the jurisdiction where the majority of the subject tract is located, unless all claimants agree to an alternate location. Notice to claimants shall be given pursuant to the requirements of § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-70. Postponement of arbitration.

Any request for postponement may be granted by the arbitrator if all claimants consent, or if good cause for a postponement is shown to the satisfaction of the arbitrator. Requests for postponement for cause should be made to the arbitrator at least 15 days before the hearing, unless the circumstances requiring the postponement do not allow 15 days notice. Whenever a postponement is granted, the arbitrator will promptly reschedule the hearing and notify the board and the claimants.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-361.15 and 45.1-361.22:1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013.

4VAC25-165-80. Discovery.

Pursuant to §§ 8.01-581.06 and 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia, the arbitrator may issue subpoenas, administer oaths, and take depositions. Additionally, any documents a claimant intends to introduce at the arbitration must be shared with the opposing claimant and the arbitrator not less than five days prior to the arbitration. If this provision is found not to be met, the arbitrator may elect to continue the arbitration.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-90. Extension of arbitration.

If, pursuant to § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia, the claimants agree that the arbitrator may take longer than six months from the date the board ordered the arbitration to render a determination, the arbitrator shall notify the board of this extension.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-100. Determination of arbitrator.

Pursuant to § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia, the determination of the arbitrator shall be in writing and sent to the board and each party to whom notice is required to be given. The determination shall include, at a minimum, a finding of facts and an explanation for the basis of the determination. A copy of the determination shall be placed on the department's website. The arbitrator shall record the determination with the clerk's office of the court.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-110. Ex parte communications.

There shall be no direct communication between the claimants and the arbitrator concerning the merits of the dispute other than at the arbitration hearing. If an ex parte communication occurs between a party and the arbitrator outside of the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator shall notify the other parties of the date, time, place, and content of the communication.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-361.15 and 45.1-361.22:1 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013.

4VAC25-165-120. Fees.

Arbitrators shall be paid at the rate of no more than $250 per hour. Expenses of the arbitrator incurred during the course of the arbitration shall be reimbursed in accordance with the State Travel Regulations prescribed by the Department of Accounts. Arbitrators shall submit a complete W-9 form to the department before payment is made.

Pursuant to § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia, payment of fees and expenses of the arbitration may be delayed if there are intervening disbursements from the general escrow account under subdivision 5 (i) or (iii) of § 45.2-1623 of the Code of Virginia that reduce the interest balance below the amount of fees and expenses requested.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

4VAC25-165-130. Disbursement of proceeds.

Within 30 days of receipt of an affidavit from the claimants affirming the determination, the operator shall petition the board for disbursement pursuant to subdivision 5 of § 45.2-1622 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 6, eff. December 19, 2013; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

FORMS (4VAC25-165).

Arbitrator Qualification Form, DGO-ARB (rev. 5/10)

Agreement to Arbitrate Form, DGO-ARB2 (rev. 7/10)

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

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