LISBON - A company that performs testing for shale gas drillers has taken legal action to get onto four leased properties where it is being denied access.
TGS-Nopec Geophysical Co. of Houston filed separate lawsuits in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court seeking injunction against the four property owners so the company can get on their properties to perform seismic testing.
According to the lawsuits, TGS has been hired to do the testing by Chesapeake Exploration, a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy, which is the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States and has more land under lease in this county than any other drilling company.
The lawsuit describes the seismic survey as a temporary "non-invasive procedure conducted for the purpose of creating a detailed image of subsurface formations. The survey results assist in determining the location of potential oil and gas reserves and enable Chesapeake to potentially maximize production while lessening operational impact on land."
Seismic testing has been underway in the county since at least last fall.
The following are the property owners named as defendants:
- Golden H. Acres, Hoopes Road, Salem, which owns about 1,100 acres in Butler and Hanover townships. Golden H reportedly entered into a lease with Chesapeake last October, which gives the company the right to perform seismic testing on the property.
- Gary and Eleanor Carter, Westville Lake Road, Beloit. The Carters reportedly own 92 acres in Knox Township which are subject to an oil and gas lease from 1950. Chesapeake now holds the lease.
- Phillip and Brenda Glasser, South 12th Street, Homeworth, who own 76 acres in Knox Township subject to a lease from 1982. The lease is now held by Chesapeake.
- James and Janet Zimmerman, Depot Road, Salem, who own 64 acres in Butler and Salem townships. The Zimmermans reportedly entered into a lease with Chesapeake in February.
In all four cases, TGS alleges the property owners have refused to sign the company permit that would allow it to perform a seismic survey, which is "critical for TGS to complete a thorough and accurate seismic survey of lands in Columbiana County and to satisfy its contractual obligation to Chesapeake."
The company's seismic testing was to commence in the county on April 1, and the lawsuit seeks an preliminary and then a permanent injunction granting TGS access to the properties until the survey work is completed. TGS is also seeking $25,000-plus in damages in compensatory damages against each defendant.
Three of the cases were assigned to Judge Scott Washam and one to Judge C. Ashley Pike. A hearing for the preliminary injunction against Golden H, the Glassers and the Zimmermans is scheduled for April 11 before Judge Washam. A hearing date for the Carters has yet to be scheduled.