Morgan County man struggles with company extracting natural gas from property

SUNBRIGHT (WATE) – Since the 1980s, large fields of natural gas have been extracted from areas on the Cumberland Plateau, including Fentress, Scott and Morgan counties. A man in Morgan County is having a problem with the company that operates the large gas field on his property. He’s received no royalties for his gas and says the gas flow has practically been cut off to his home.

Bill Walter’s home in Sunbright sits on a natural gas field and right now a company out of Middle Tennessee extracts it. Having natural gas on your land and under contract means you get the gas free to heat your home and you’re eligible for royalty payments.

Walter said he had no issues with the company that previously operated the gas well, but all that changed a few years ago.

About about a quarter of a mile from his home, Walter has a poorly maintained natural gas well first set up on his property more than 30 years ago.

“One thing you can tell, the gauge up there it’s supposed to show the pressure of the well, it’s not even functional. It’s broke,” Walter said.

Walter says the well head wasn’t broken down when he first moved to Sunbright 11 years ago when another company at the time operated the well.

“Here you have the meter which is supposed to show how much gas they’re pulling from the well. You can see both needles are on top of each other, so it’s not even calibrated to read how much gas it’s pulling,” said Walter.

Without functioning meters, Walter says the current operator of the well has no idea how much gas is going to his house. Twenty months ago, he signed a contract with TMD Energy out of Middle Tennessee. One section says Walter has the right to use the gas free of charge, but he’s had to buy several portable heaters to keep his home warm because the flow of natural gas has practically stopped.

“Right now TMD is using a vacuum method to pull the gas out of my well. When they do that they take pretty much all of the gas. It doesn’t leave me enough to heat with,” he said.

Then there is the royalty clause stipulated in his contract.

“It’s 12 1/2 percent royalty for any gas that they pull from the property,” he said, adding that he’s getting nothing.

TMD Energy is operated out of an office building in Brentwood, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville. Charles Murchison, the CEO of TMD Energy, signed Walter’s contract in May 2015. Murchison said the well on Walter’s property has never been a good well or a good money maker. He said presently there’s water in the well-bore and it needs work, but said TMD Energy wants to help Walter.

Murchison said Walter is owed about $60 in royalties and TMD wants to work with him. Walter says money is not the issue. He wants the well fixed and maintained as it says in the contract, and he wants the company to resume the flow of gas.

“I just want them to stop using the vacuum so I can have gas to heat my home, without having to worry about it and be stressed about it everyday,” he said.

Walter says he’s contacted TMD Energy about the issues at his home, but has received no response. Since TMD said the company wants to work with him, Walter trusts they’ll get in touch with him to iron out their problems.

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