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Ohio Utica Shale

Federal judge throws out 'force majeure' case in New York

By Bob Downing Published: November 17, 2012

From the Marcellus Effect:


Just because you can’t “frack” doesn’t mean you can't drill. That’s what U.S. District Court Judge David Hurd told Chesapeake Appalachia the other day. In a decision posted November 15, Hurd rejects force majeure as a reason to hold onto expired leases. Leases, he explain, terminate at the end of their primary terms. His reasoning:
“… The purpose of the leases is to explore, drill, produce, and otherwise operate for oil and gas and their constituents.” And the fact that New York State is still reviewing regulations for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) does not stop oil and gas companies from exploring, drilling, producing and otherwise operating, says Hurd.
Even though the state does not allow fracking, “… drilling permits for conventional drilling methods have, and continue to be, issued in the area of plaintiffs’ lands,” wrote Hurd. He clarified that the leases signed by landowners did not limit Chesapeake’s right to drill to a specific type of drilling or a particular formation.
The whole force majeure argument was based on the illusion that New York state was preventing the gas companies from drilling. But, notes Hurd, “While defendants submit evidence demonstrating that horizontal drilling combined with HVHF is the only commercially viable method of production in the Marcellus Shale and drilling using conventional methods is impractical,"[m]ere impracticality . . . is not enough to excuse performance." The gas companies “…contracted for access, exploration, and the right to drill for a set period of time.” Not for a specific technique or formation.
This decision brings a sigh of relief to more than 50 landowners in Broome and Tioga counties who were trapped in leases that should have expired years ago.
You can read Judge Hurd's decision here. Read previous posts about the force majeure cases here.



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Utica and Marcellus shale web sites

Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management State agency Web site.

ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. State drilling permits. List is updated weekly.

ODNR Division of Geological Survey.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio State University Extension.

Ohio Farm Bureau.

Ohio Oil and Gas Association, a Granville-based group that represents 1,500 Ohio energy-related companies.

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program.

Energy In Depth, a trade group.

Marcellus and Utica Shale Resource Center by Ohio law firm Bricker & Eckler.

Utica Shale, a compilation of Utica shale activities.

Landman Report Card, a site that looks at companies involved in gas and oil leases.FracFocus, a compilation of chemicals used in fracking individual wells as reported voluntarily by some drillers.

Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.

Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.

Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.

National Geographic's The Great Shale Rush.

The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.

Buckeye Forest Council.

Earthjustice, a national eco-group.

Stop Fracking Ohio.

People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.

Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.

No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.

Penn State Marcellus Center.

Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.

Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.