LITTLE ROCK — The holders of coal rights in a Sebastian County mine do not also own the natural gas rights, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

LITTLE ROCK — The holders of coal rights in a Sebastian County mine do not also own the natural gas rights, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld a federal judge’s ruling in a lawsuit filed by EnerVest Operating. The company sought a ruling as to whether it should pay gas royalties to Sebastian Mining, which holds coal rights to the mine, or to a group of people and companies who hold the mineral rights.

Sebastian Mining argued that at the time the mineral rights were sold, the economic value of coal bed methane gas was not known, so the seller could not have intended for the mineral rights to include natural gas rights.

The federal judge disagreed, and a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit upheld the judge’s ruling. The 8th Circuit said in its opinion Friday that the deed by which the mineral rights were transferred specified that the rights extended to liquids and vapors and “any substance which is embraced within the meaning of the word ‘mineral.’”

Natural gas “easily falls within the plain meaning of the general mineral rights reserved to the gas owners,” the court said in the opinion.

The holders of the gas rights are identified in the lawsuit as Andromeda Partners, Ream Interests, Anadarko Petroleum and Jack and Deborah Crissup.