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Statoil Sues West Virginia County Over Tax Overpayment, Refund

Statoil ASA has filed a lawsuit against Marshall County, WV, to recover about $350,000 it overpaid for property taxes last year.

Marshall County Assessor Chris Kessler and West Virginia State Tax Commissioner Mark Matkovich are listed as defendants in the civil suit. In July, Marshall County Commissioners denied Statoil's request for a refund by a vote of 2-1 (see Shale Daily, July 5). The company says the overpayment resulted from a clerical error when it used production estimates instead of actual volumes to calculate its 2015 payment.

While state law does permit refunds for such clerical errors, the West Virginia Tax Department told the commissioners the company's miscalculation was a matter of negligence.

In May, Statoil agreed to sell all of its operated properties in the state to EQT Corp. for $407 million (see Shale Daily, May 3). It still has 350,000 non-operated acres in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Statoil has also been denied refunds this year for $2.9 million in Ohio County, WV, and for more than $1 million in Wetzel County, WV. Another request for a nearly $2 million overpayment is still pending in Brooke County, WV. The company has not filed suit in any of those cases and a spokesman said it continues to maintain the overpayments were the result of clerical errors.

While one Marshall County Commissioner voted to return the money, the county assessor told local news media that the evidence shows the company acted negligently in failing to catch the clerical error. The suit was filed in the Marshall County circuit court.

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