Responding to a surge in applications, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has issued rules for new applications. After being relatively unused for decades, the unitization statute (R.C. 1509.28) has found new life in the current shale play and the state agency overseeing the process decided it was time to lay down some groundrules.
The new rules mostly serve to clarify the statutory requirements, but there are few substantive additions that aren’t required by statute:
- Affidavit of attempts to lease. Most notably, the new rules require applicants to describe their efforts to lease the remaining acres in a proposed unit. The operator must identify specific details of each attempt to lease the mineral rights, including the dates of the attempts and the names of people contacted. This has long been an aspect of mandatory pooling, and has been a part of recent unitization orders, but until now was not a prerequisite to apply for unitization.
- Visual depictions of the proposed unit. The rules describe specific dimensions and content requirement for maps and aerial photographs of proposed units.
- Description of geological formations. The rules require a gamma-ray density log depicting the geological formations to be drilled in the proposed unit.
- Large exhibits at hearings. As the audiences grow at unitization hearings, the new rules require applicants to bring large visual exhibits depicting many parts of the application (including the maps and aerial photographs of the proposed unit, and depictions of the geological formation).
Check out the new rules at the …
Mineral and land owners in Ohio who are presented with a proposed lease from a landman or oil company often launch an intense study of royalty provisions, development covenants, delay rentals, Pugh clauses, well spacing and the like. They often refer to the Internet, land owner groups, owner-oriented attorneys and other resources. Like so many things, it turns out that our forefathers pretty much had it figured out. I recently reviewed a 1901 oil and gas lease from Putman County; my thoughts and observations are below.
The lease was granted by Noah Moser to The Sun Oil Co., an Ohio corporation, on Sept. 19, 1901. The recordation of this transaction is hand written into the Putman County records by the recorder. The consideration, what is today called the “signing bonus,” was $80 for a 160-acre parcel. (In today’s dollars, that’s an “economic power” of $56,300, or $352 per acre.)
In the two-page document, Mr. Moser granted all the oil and gas in and under the described premises together with the right to enter at all times for the purpose of drilling and operating for oil, gas or water. This included the right to erect, maintain and remove all buildings, structures, pipelines and machinery necessary, provided that Mr. Moser retained the right to farm the land not actually used. Just what one would expect. But here’s where Mr. Moser shows he knew what he was doing:…
This is the second post in a two-part series examining ownership of minerals located under bodies of water and roads. See part I discussing the ownership of minerals under adjoining waters.
Who owns the minerals underneath public roads in Ohio? This is really two questions:
- What ownership interest does the state, county, or township have in the land underlying the road?
- What is the rule for abutting landowners in the event the government owns less than a fee simple absolute?
Historical Ownership Interest of the State, Counties and Municipalities
Over time, the interest acquired in the land underlying roads has changed for states, counties, and townships. Ownership interests are transaction specific, but there is a general trend. Municipal roads were usually taken in fee, while roads outside municipalities are likely to be easements unless they were granted in the past 30 years, in which case they are likely to be held in fee.…