NCNB Texas National Bank, N.A. v. West

In NCNB Texas National Bank, N.A. v. West, 631 So. 2d 212 (Ala.1993), the Alabama Court also considered the difference between the rule of capture (which it described as a "nonownership theory") and the concept of ownership in place in a dispute between a coal owner and the successor in interest to the original fee owner. The original owner had severed the coal and coal mining rights in a 1954 deed conveying "all the coal," but reserving "all the oil, gas, petroleum and sulphur." In a detailed and complex holding, the court ruled that the coal owner "owned" the coalbed methane when it was still in the coal, and the gas owner "owned" it when it migrated out of the coal strata: "We hold that the appellant gas owners have no interest in coalbed gas recovered from horizontal or vertical wells drilled directly into coalbeds before the coal is mined, although the gas owners do have a 22 1/2 % interest in coalbed gas that migrates out of the coal seams, such as that gas collected within the gob zone." (Id., 631 So. 2d at 229.)