New Ohio Laws on Forced Unitization Provide More Protection to Landowners, Ohio Oil & Gas Lawyer Says

  • June 14, 2013

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Ohio landowners should have more protection,  thanks to new state laws that will force energy companies to provide more notice and documentation as they pursue larger drilling units, a leading Buckeye State oil and gas lawyer says.

Alan D. Wenger, chair of the Oil & Gas Law Practice Group at Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, said the new regulations, issued earlier this month, provide more specifics about the documentation energy companies will need to provide as the seek forced unitization.

“The laws on the books for more than 50 years were inadequate, so this update is welcome,” Wenger said. “Drafters of the original laws covering these matters could not have imagined the way oil and gas exploration has changed, particularly in recent years.”

Wenger that laws covering forced pooling have been used sparingly since the 1960s, and those covering forced unitization had almost never been used, until just last year.

Since then a dozen or so applications have been suddenly filed by companies involved in horizontal shale drilling in the Utica in an apparent effort to exploit the lack of precedent and standards, he said.

“Unitization suddenly seemed to be a way for companies holding most of the drilling rights to a potential unit to avoid having to negotiate with remaining owners and lessors,” Wenger said.

The new laws published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources can be found at this link:

“Any party who receives notice of a unitization, or any lessor who believes that it may have land included within a unit (they will not necessarily be given notice), should consult knowledgeable legal counsel,” Wenger said.

Wenger elaborates about the new standards in a column posted on the law firm's blog, located at

Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd. is the area's largest law firm, with offices in Youngstown, Warren and Salem. The firm provides legal solutions to corporations, other businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies and individuals. More information is available online at

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