§22C-8-10. Establishment of drilling units; hearings; orders.

(a) At the time and place fixed by the chair for the meeting of the board and for consideration of an application to establish a drilling unit, the applicant shall present proof that the drilling location on the proposed drilling unit has been agreed to by all of the owners of the coal seams underlying such drilling location; and thereafter the applicant, the royalty owners of the gas underlying the tracts comprising the unit, and the gas operators of the tracts comprising the unit or such of them as are present or represented, shall hold a conference with the board to consider the application. Such persons present or represented at the conference may agree upon the boundary of the drilling unit as proposed by the applicant or as changed to satisfy all valid objections of those persons present or represented. Any change in the boundary of the drilling unit from the boundary proposed by the applicant shall be shown on the plat filed with the board as part of the application. If agreement is reached at the conference upon the boundary of the drilling unit among the applicants, the royalty owners of the gas underlying the tracts comprising the drilling unit and the gas operators of the tracts comprising such unit, or such of them as are present or represented, and if such agreement is approved by the board, the board shall issue a written order establishing and specifying the boundary of the drilling unit.

(b) If the applicant, the royalty owners of the gas underlying the tracts comprising the drilling unit and the gas operators of the tracts comprising such unit, or such of them as are present or represented at the time and place fixed by the chair for consideration of the application, are unable to agree upon the boundary of the drilling unit, then the board shall hold a hearing without recess of more than one business day to consider the application to establish a drilling unit. All of the pertinent provisions of article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code shall apply to and govern such hearing. Within twenty days after the close of the hearing, the board shall issue a written order either establishing a drilling unit or dismissing the application. If the board determines to establish a drilling unit, the order shall specify the boundary of such drilling unit. In determining whether to grant or deny an application to establish a drilling unit, the board shall consider:

(1) The surface topography and property lines of the lands comprising the drilling unit;

(2) The correlative rights of all gas operators and royalty owners therein;

(3) The just and equitable share of production of each gas operator and royalty owner therein;

(4) Whether a gas operator or royalty owner objecting to the drilling unit has proved by clear and convincing evidence that the drilling unit is substantially smaller than the area that will be produced by the proposed well; and

(5) Other evidence relevant to the establishment of the boundary of a drilling unit.

(c) The board shall not grant an application to establish a drilling unit, nor shall it approve any drilling unit, unless the board finds that:

(1) The applicant has proved that the drilling location on the drilling unit has been agreed to by all of the owners of the coal seams underlying such drilling location;

(2) The director has previously refused to issue a drilling permit on one of the tracts comprising the drilling unit because of an order of the board;

(3) The drilling unit includes all acreage within the minimum distance limitations provided by section eight of this article, unless the gas operators and royalty owners of any excluded acreage have agreed to such exclusion; and

(4) The drilling unit includes a portion of the acreage from under which the well operator intended to produce gas under the drilling permit which was refused.

(d) All orders issued by the board under this section shallcontain findings of fact and conclusions based thereon as required by section three, article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code and shall be filed with the director within twenty days after the hearing. Any member of the board may file a separate opinion. Copies of all orders and opinions shall be mailed by the board, by registered or certified mail, to the parties present or represented at the hearing.