Ohio's unitization law allows companies to drill under unwilling landowners' properties

Increasingly, drilling companies are employing a little-used state law to get permission from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to "add unwilling properties to large drilling units to maximize oil and gas access," The Columbus Dispatch reports (See our Oct 23, 2012, blog – "Unitization requests in Ohio expected to rise as drillers move into more densely populated areas"). The state's unitization law, which requires that 65 percent of the acres in the unit be leased before the remaining acres can be subject to unitization, had been used once or twice since its passage in 1964 prior to last year. Since ODNR approved a request from Chesapeake Energy Corp. last year, drilling companies have filed 11 unitization requests with the department that cover hundreds of acres "in Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson and Trumbull counties." The unitization law, however, does limit the right of the company to only drill beneath the unwilling landowner's property, and guarantees at least some form of fair compensation for the landowner.