In a major decision for gas companies, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that coalbed methane and coal reserves can be separately owned.
The high court ruled 7-1 that private landowners, not the Southern Ute Tribe, own the coalbed methane reserves in the vicinity of the reservationin southern Colorado (OGJ, Jan. 25, 1999, p. 34). The tribe had estimated it might be owed $1 billion in royalties and interest.
The case, Amoco Production Co. vs. Southern Ute Indian Tribe, is expected to affect other coalbed methane production in the West. The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States has said more than 20 million acres of western lands could be affected.