By Karl Henkel
More than 1,000 Trumbull County landowners voted in favor of the state’s largest single-county oil and gas lease Monday night, which, if executed, will pump more than $331 million into the local economy.
The deal is not with Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., but rather London-based BP, according to landowners who attended the meeting.
BP is expected to announce the deal today.
A bonus payment figure, which was not available to landowners before Monday’s meeting, totaled $3,900 per acre, according to those who attended the meeting.
Landowners, under terms of the lease, are slated to receive royalties of 17.5 percent of mineral values.
Some landowners approached by The Vindicator requested anonymity when discussing the lease because of confidentiality concerns.
The meeting was by invitation only.
One landowner, however, who voted in favor of the lease and who owns 80 acres in Kinsman, said he was glad the Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley, a nonprofit landowner-advocacy group that negotiated on behalf of the landowners, chose a “legitimate outfit” and negotiated “reasonable pay.”
Landowners were previously told they would receive at least $2,250 per acre.
ALOV would not identify of the “major international company,” citing the fact landowners had voted on the lease, but had not yet signed.
ALOV also declined to verify terms of the lease, citing a confidentiality agreement.
The lease signing will take place next month.
The landowners pooled about 85,000 acres, the largest single-county pool of leased land in state history — “monumentally sized” — said Bob Rea, president of ALOV.
At the session, each acre was worth one vote.
There were 67,103 represented acres at the meeting; 63,723 voted in favor and 345 represented acres voted against the lease proposal. The remaining represented acreage abstained from voting. Abstentions from voting on lease deals can occur when there is potential disagreement regarding previous mineral-rights leases.
Though 95 percent of those represented acres voted in favor of the lease, coming to an agreement was not an easy task.
ALOV and energy companies have negotiated for about six months, Rea said.
“We could have settled in September,” he told The Vindicator. “We had lookers, and we had people that were interested in certain levels, but it was not with the language of our lease that we wanted to continue to honor.”
Rea said previous proposals were “priced below market value.”
Though the group approved the lease terms, Rea said, the lease will not be signed until next month.
Once the lease is signed, landowners could receive their bonus checks within about six months, thanks in part because they pooled together funds to digitize Trumbull County records, thus expediting the process.
“It cost more than $250,000, but our people are going to be paid quicker,” said Rea, who did not say exactly how quickly landowners will receive bonus checks.
ALOV has now helped Ohio landowners lease more than 250,000 acres to oil and gas companies.