I am writing this letter so county residents who are not involved with gas storage leases are given information they may not be receiving in their local newspapers, so they may call upon their representatives to represent the interests of our county's citizens.
First and foremost, the residents of this county living within the Brinker Storage Field are being held hostage by companies such as Columbia Gas. Many have leases that expired as far back as 1957, and Columbia Gas claims they are still binding. The leases claim they are able to drill for oil and gas and use the property to store gas, but do not have to prove that they are utilizing the property. Columbia Gas, in particular, has failed to pay those with leases, and yet still wants to claim the leases are in full force. I know that Columbia Gas has failed to make the $1 per acre payment to us, for the past five years.
Columbia Gas recently sold their interests to their own subsidiary, NiSource, with the intention of obtaining drilling rights for the recently discovered Marcellus Shale, and muscle landowners into accepting the $200 annual royalty from their lease dating back to 1957. Needless to say, in 1957, no one had the ability to navigate their way through 13,000 feet of earth to be able to obtain this new crude, and the storage field would not be affected by the drilling, as this would be 10,000 feet or more below any storage that is currently utilized.
Some may say this is greed by landowners to want what is fair and equitable share of what profit will be made from their own property. Others know the greed is on the part of Columbia Gas, who failed for 50 years to drill or produce gas on property they leased. Now that someone else has been able to come up with a way for this to happen, they want to lay claim to leases that expired 50 years ago. The Brinker Storage encompasses nearly 30,000 acres in Fairfield, Center and Elkrun Townships and affects over 800 landowners. These are your neighbors and friends that are being affected.
Ohio has no minimum royalty law. It is on of only a few states that does not. Our state senators and state representatives need to be asked to vote for the minimum royalty law that is before the House.
We may not have a great deal of wealth to fight huge corporations, but we still have a voice and a say in our laws.