By: Heidi R. Kemp
Emens Wolper Jacobs & Jasin Law Firm
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” J.R.R. Tolkien. Time really does move so quickly. It is hard to believe that we are already looking back on another year past and pondering what 2022 will bring. I am an oil and gas attorney who represents mineral owners in their dealings with the oil and gas companies. I am also on the Executive Board of the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners (“NARO”). A lot has happened on the Ohio oil and gas world in 2021 and we fully expect 2022 to be just as busy.
From NARO’s perspective, we had to adjust and improvise our plans in order to attempt to fulfill our mission of advocacy for and education of royalty owners given COVID. On the advocacy side, we had our hands full with proposed legislation that would totally change force unitizations in Ohio – to the detriment of mineral owners. We, along with many other groups and individual landowners, participated heavily in the legislative process and will continue to advocate for mineral owners on this issue. We are proud of the work that we did and the connections we made in this process and look forward to using this momentum to effectuate more positive changes in 2022.
On the educational side, NARO was unable to have a convention or town halls in 2021 like we had hoped. However, we did host a monthly phone call “From the Pipeline” for our members. This phone call created a forum where executive board members would provide updates about what we were all seeing in our own experiences related to Ohio oil and gas and then open the floor to any member who had something they wanted to talk about. We also had a few online seminars that were well attended. We hope to continue these efforts and more in 2022.
Most notably, we will be holding our first Ohio convention in September 2022 in Cambridge, Ohio. We are busy planning the convention and lining up speakers. Be on the lookout for information about attendance and sponsorships. We hope to see you there! If you are interested in serving on the Board or becoming a member or volunteering your time or expertise, please visit our website at naroohio.org and send us an email.
From the attorney perspective, much of what we have been involved in are the usual oil and gas issues such as leasing, force unitizations, royalty payments, mineral ownership issues, etc. We fully expect these issues to be just as prevalent in 2022. As always, if you are approached for an oil and gas lease, be very wary and consider having an experienced oil and gas attorney negotiate the lease on your behalf. We often see mineral owners negotiate compensation that is acceptable to them but they do not focus on other landowner-friendly terms that can be put into the lease for additional protection.
Royalty payments are as much of a hot button as ever. Whether it is trying to read your royalty statements, or trying to determine if you are being paid in accordance with your lease, or even trying to fix any issues with your royalty payments, royalty payment issues persist across the board. The Ohio legislature and many of Ohio’s courts are leaving the burden on the mineral owner to police the oil and gas companies – often without the very information the mineral owner needs in order to do so.
In 2021, several very high profile cases were decided by the Ohio Supreme Court related to various issues but particularly to mineral ownership. For the most part, these decisions did not state bright line rules; so, 2022 will most certainly bring many more cases related to the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act and the Ohio Marketable Title Act. These additional decisions should continue to flesh out how these two statutes will be interpreted.
Overall, we are very optimistic for Ohio oil and gas in 2022 and look forward to another year representing mineral owners.