Columbia may cap family’s free gas

LISBON – Columbia Gas Transmission filed a request in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court Wednesday asking the court allow a free gas agreement to be terminated with seven Elkrun Township residents with gas wells beneath their properties.

According to court documents, the agreement affects Luella M. Carlisle and Thomas and Jennie Scheel, who have property on 6482 Lower Elkton Road, Lisbon; Nels and Elaine Scheel, 44714 state Route 558, Columbiana; and John and Carolyn Scheel, 45014 state Route 558, Columbiana.

The seven residents signed a gas storage lease on April 22, 1987. The lease ran for 10 years with a clause that stated “and as long thereafter as the leasehold is used by Columbia as part or all of the gas storage field as defined in the leasing clause.”

The storage lease extends through 145.21 acres of land. Columbia Gas has paid the property owners $581 annually, according to court documents, as it was required by the lease.

The lease also provides for one family dwelling on the 145 acres to receive up to 300,000 cubic feet of gas annually for free.

According to Columbia, the leasehold area has one well, an observation well known as well No. 4291. However, Columbia contends that while the well previously produced enough gas pressure to provide a source of free gas, it has begun declining in the past five years. In the lawsuit, Columbia has indicated concerns the well may possibly fail this winter.

Because of this, Columbia sent a letter to Thomas and Jennie Scheel, the current lessors receiving the free gas through the agreement, alerting them the well is about to be plugged and abandoned.

Although Thomas and Jennie Scheel have reportedly taken the position the agreement makes it the duty of Columbia to perpetually provide them with a free supply in gas, the company has asked the court to make the determination.

The case has been assigned to Judge C. Ashley Pike and Columbia Gas has requested an expedited hearing so the Scheels will have adequate time to obtain a new heat source before the well is plugged and abandoned or fails. This would reportedly leave the home without heat for the upcoming winter.