LORDSTOWN - The Marcellus and Utica shale gas drilling boom is creating an unforeseen subset. Landowners who leased mineral rights decades ago, now are looking to amend outdated royalties and safety risks.
About 150 of those residents came out for a presentation held by the Lordstown Regional Landowners Group (LRLG) Thursday at the UAW Local 1714 Union Hall.
Kevin Campbell of Lordstown is helping to organize the collective bargaining effort.
"I have a 40-year-old lease that's still in effect," Campbell said Thursday. "The old lease applies to these new fracking wells. My concerns are I have a new-style well coming in with a lease that doesn't offer me much protection. Everything from distances from my house and what they can do on my property to compensation for things that would happen to my property.
"So, I'd like to protect my home. It has been a family farm for 80 years."
All members of the group had mineral rights leases transferred when Halcon Resources Corporation recently paid NCL Appalachian Partners $194 million for Utica Shale drilling rights on about 31,000 acres in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Prior to the meeting, just more than 30 landowners were members of LRLG, but Campbell hopes educational meetings like the one held Tuesday will entice more landowners to participate.
Tribune Chronicle / Ashley Newman
Attorney Alan Wenger of Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell speaks to the Lordstown Regional Landowners Group Thursday at the UAW Local 1714 Union Hall.
"This offers us some bargaining power with the companies," he said. "We have enough property that they have to pay attention to us and hear our concerns. With us having some vested interest in the community and with them having interest in places that they want to drill, we have a group of landowners that are basically saying, come to the table with us so we can work some of these thing out."
The group's attorney, Alan D. Wenger of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, explained the finer points of the leases to those in attendance.
"Halcon needs something from the landowners," Wenger said. "In order for them to change the unit size, which they need to do in order to complete this kind of drilling, they need to amend the leases. The landowners are just looking for some consideration and benefit for doing that."
Michael Hodak, president of LRLG, wanted to make it clear the group's intentions are not to disrupt fracking operations.
"As a group, we are not anti-fracking," he said. "We are rooting for Halcon's success. We just want everyone to succeed, including the landowners."
According to Hodak, more meetings will be held in the future as the group continues to grow. The nonprofit group costs $150 to join and includes a maintenance fee of $5 per acre. The combination of money will be used for legal fees, advertising and incidental costs for running the operation.