Trumbull Co. landowners facing next step when drilling leases expire


CHAMPION, Ohio (WYTV) – Over the next few years, Ohioans could see more horizontal drilling injection well projects pop up across the region. But experts are warning people to be careful before they sign away their land.

When the oil and gas industry came to the area over five years ago, there was a lot of money to be made on land leases. Now those leases are up and landowners in Trumbull County want to know what to do next.

Local officials met with about 200 of them Thursday night to talk about the future of drilling and the options they have when it comes to land ownership and signing lease agreements.

Energy Director Dale Arnold, with the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said energy development is going to be around for a while.

During Thursday night’s briefing, he discussed drilling and related energy development activities in Trumbull County.

“This might not be the hotbed of activity with shale drilling, but when you take a look at pipelines, energy infrastructure…a lot of things are happening in northeast Ohio,” he said.

Arnold said other alternative energy companies will also be interested in land here.

However, when signing a lease agreement, he said landowners should take it seriously and think about the impact it will have on their families. A long-term lease agreement has the potential to last for generations.

“One thing we say is this, is you don’t want to sign one of these lease agreements on the hood of your pickup truck,” Arnold said.

Alan Wenger, a local oil and gas attorney, also made a point to discuss lease legalities and regulations.

“I’ve been involved with leasing since the boom began in ’11 and ’12 and a large leasing group in Trumbull County was involved, Associated Land Owners of the Ohio Valley,” he said. “Their leases were signed in 2012 and are about to be due or expire next month, many of them. And folks are very concerned with what happens next.”

Janice Thomas, who owns land in Fowler, is facing the end of her family’s land lease with a big oil and gas company.

“I need more information. I need something in writing, telling us what they plan on doing next, if anything, or are we under any obligations,” she said. “We don’t know what to expect or what they’re planning on doing. We have a lot of injection wells around where we are. Injection wells have been around since the ’60s and ’70s.”

Trumbull County already has 18 injection wells — the most in Ohio — and more than the entire state of Pennsylvania.