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Landowners Angry With Ohio's Forced Pooling Laws

Remember forced pooling? Governor Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission wanted to allow natural gas drillers to, under certain circumstances, extract Marcellus Shale gas from under unwilling landowners’ property. The panel’s justification: That scenario is legal – with full com­pen­sa­tion for the landowner – in nearly every other geo­log­i­cal for­ma­tion.
But Governor Corbett said he was dead-set against pooling, and the language never made it into the impact fee legislators passed in February.
Forced pooling is legal in Ohio, which is entering its own natural gas drilling rush. As more drilling begins to take place there, landowners are learning about the pooling law. And as the AP reports, many of them are ticked off:

Natural gas drillers are swarming eastern Ohio — where Hashbarger lives — as new horizontal drilling technology has allowed access to previously unavailable oil and gas deposits in the shale. Ohio is among states that have been revisiting their drilling laws in order to capitalize on the investment and job creation potential.
Laws on mandatory pooling were intended to assure that profits from drilling were shared among both willing and unwilling property owners, said John Keller, a Columbus lawyer who represents Ohio drillers in their pooling requests.
The arrangement prevents neighbors from allowing drillers to suck resources from under another’s land without compensation, while allowing interested landowners to exercise their mineral rights.
He said they were dubbed “conservation statutes” that would discourage several neighbors from each drilling wells extending down into the same deposit “like several straws going into the same Coke bottle.” That was seen as both blighting the landscape and shrinking profits for everyone involved by reducing the underground pressure that dictates how much oil or gas is produced.

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