After publishing a move by Chesapeake Energy to change the state's drilling requirements, a partial halt has been announced.

A state board has postponed hearings on requests by Chesapeake Energy for broad variances to West Virginia gas drilling rules, according to Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward.

Four requests from Chesapeake to modify drill spacing and depth limits were delayed indefinitely, he says.

It wasn't clear why the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission postponed the hearings.

Dave McMahon, a lawyer for surface property owners, said a notification sheet at the hearing indicated the action was taken to allow some sort of legislative action on the matter.

Scott Rotruck, a spokesman for Chesapeake, said his company did not have any immediate plans to seek any changes in state drilling laws, but it still seems the energy giant has been granted leeway in several West Virginia counties.

Chesapeake is seeking to change the spacing limits on wells from 3,000 feet apart to 1,000 feet apart, according to state records and legal advertisements.

Already, the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has approved Chesapeake's proposals for an 800,000-acre area in parts of seven counties.

At issue are proposals by Chesapeake to drill deeper into a formation called the Onondaga Group without having the wells actually considered "deep wells" under current state rules, according to the Charleston newspaper.

All this has come after Chesapeake threatened to leave the state after they lost a $4 million lawsuit to royalty owners, and intensified lobbying efforts with Gov. Manchin and the legislature.