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Shale-gas land leases: Owners unite, hire lawyers

By Spencer Hunt

The Columbus Dispatch Sunday November 13, 2011 11:01 AM


When Ohio’s oil-and-gas boom comes calling, Richland County farmer Robert Bevier says he and about 130 neighbors will be ready.

As chairman of the BEST (Best Efforts Stand Together) Land Association, Bevier says his group is ready to negotiate terms for oil and gas leases that would cover about 19,000 acres of privately owned land, most of it in northern Richland County. The only thing missing is a good offer.

“There’s none that we’d call serious,” Bevier said. “It’s just progressing its way across the state, and we’re on the western part of it.”

Energy companies eager to win rights to drill in the Utica shale are moving west from eastern Ohio counties. With tales of bonus payments now as high as $5,000 an acre in eastern Ohio, the number of ownership groups, and lawyers eager to represent them, is exploding.

“They are popping up all over the place,” said Dale Arnold, energy-policy director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “There are a lot of companies offering services.”

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Columbus lawyer J. Richard Emens said he is working with six groups, including the Mohican Basin Landowners Association, which covers property owners in Ashland, Coshocton, Holmes, Knox, Richland and Wayne counties.

Because groups represent large tracts, they are able to negotiate higher payments and better protections against pollution, water loss and property damage, Emens said. He said he typically collects “in the 1 percent range” from lease bonuses.


Read the full article about shale-gas lease terms