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There is a new era of oil and gas exploration in Ohio: the horizontal “fracking” era. Although the hydraulic fracturing process has been utilized for decades, the recent development of horizontal drilling methods has enabled companies to extract oil and gas from the Marcellus and Utica deep shale formations. Horizontal hydraulic fracturing has substantially changed oil and gas drilling in eastern Ohio, as evident by the following statements taken from a complaint filed by landowners in Columbiana County:

From 2008 through 2010, few Columbiana County landowners understood the significance of the Utica shale play. ... [M]any landowners enter[ed] into oil and gas leases in which they received less than 1% of the fair market value for the up-front Signing Bonus payments that are currently being paid in Columbiana County and without requiring appropriate lease provisions that would protect the landowners and their lands against the much greater risks and disruptions which accompany horizontal drilling.

The advent of horizontal fracking also prompted Ohio to update its oil and gas statutes. On June 11, 2012, Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 315, which amended Revised Code (R.C.) Chapter 1509 and expanded state authority over horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Part II of this Essay summarizes recent decisions concerning the state’s regulation of oil and gas drilling and production. Part III looks at cases raising tort issues such as trespass, negligence, nuisance, and strict liability. Part IV describes a variety of actions seeking to invalidate, terminate, and interpret leases. Part V examines cases seeking to declare minerals abandoned and reunited with the surface estate.

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This document has been made available for download by permission of the publisher. This document was originally published in 74 Ohio St. L.J. Furthermore (2013).

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Moritz College of Law



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Columbus, OH