§22C-9-1. Declaration of public policy; legislative findings.

(a) It is hereby declared to be the public policy of this state and in the public interest to:

(1) Foster, encourage and promote exploration for and development, production, utilization and conservation of oil and gas resources;

(2) Prohibit waste of oil and gas resources and unnecessary surface loss of oil and gas and their constituents;

(3) Encourage the maximum recovery of oil and gas; and

(4) Safeguard, protect and enforce the correlative rights of operators and royalty owners in a pool of oil or gas to the end that each such operator and royalty owner may obtain his just and equitable share of production from such pool of oil or gas.

(b) The Legislature hereby determines and finds that oil and natural gas found in West Virginia in shallow sands or strata have been produced continuously for more than one hundred years; that oil and gas deposits in such shallow sands or strata have geological and other characteristics different than those found in deeper formations; and that in order to encourage the maximum recovery of oil and gas from all productive formations in this state, it is not in the public interest, with the exception of shallow wells utilized in a secondary recovery program, to enact statutory provisions relating to the exploration for or production from oil and gas from shallow wells, as defined in section two of this article, but that it is in the public interest to enact statutory provisions establishing regulatory procedures and principles to be applied to the exploration for or production of oil and gas from deep wells, as defined in said section two.