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'Take it or leave it' offers by some landmen leaves owners steamed

Published: Sat, August 3, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.

Landman giving some 'take it or leave it' offers

By Burton Speakman



Some landmen are getting aggressive and telling property owners they can “take or leave” offers for right-of-way access for pipelines.

There have been calls about the offers coming for a few weeks, said Alan Wenger, an oil and gas attorney with Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell Ltd. in Youngstown.

“A few of the landmen are being too aggressive,” he said. “They’re telling people to take the offer, it’s the best they’re going to get, or they’ll get [land rights] anyway through eminent domain.”

Although overaggressive conduct isn’t acceptable and shouldn’t be condoned by landmen, it does sometimes happen, said Don Fischbach, chairman of the Energy Group for Calfee, Halter & Griswold, a Cleveland law firm.

He believes there’s a difference between the role of a landman and a broker. It’s a broker’s job to simply negotiate deals with property owners, as opposed to a landman who generally selects what land will be leased, in what areas, and how much will be paid. There are some landmen in Ohio handling all of those roles, but generally the larger companies hire brokers, often from out of state, to negotiate deals.

“These brokers are trying to lease acres as efficiently and economically as possible,” Fischbach said. “Some of them might get a little too caught up in being mission-oriented.”

Another issue is people often have made up their minds about oil and gas development and are unfriendly to brokers, or false-price rumors cause conflict, he said.

“If a third party hears from someone that they’re getting $115 a foot and a landman offers them $15, the [property owner] is going to run them out on a rail,” Fischbach said. “The landman is confused because nobody in the area has gotten more than $15 a foot, but the [property owner] doesn’t have any way of knowing that.”

The key for property owners is to get help for these negotiations if they have questions and work with someone who understands the industry, Fischbach said.

One of the issues with the tactic being used is some pipeline projects have eminent-domain rights while the majority do not, Wenger said.

Sunoco has a natural-gas pipeline that travels through at least Canfield, Boardman and Poland townships. The company is trying to add a 12-inch parallel line to the existing one and could use eminent domain, he said. The Sunoco pipeline has been in the Valley since at least the 1940s.

“But the company is trying not to and negotiating with landowners for a larger right of way,” Wenger said.

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, said he has heard similar complaints about landmen trying to use “strong-arm tactics.”

The state needs to help protect people’s property rights and make sure they are not taken advantage of, he said.

“The expansion of the oil and gas industry has been great. It’s meant more jobs, and some people have been made instant millionaires,” Schiavoni said.

But if people don’t want their land to be used, they should have that right, he said.

“It’s one of the issues we need to deal with down in Columbus,” Schiavoni said.

Residents should ask any landman who says the company has eminent-domain rights for a copy of its certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the Public Utilities Commission, Wenger said.

At this point, companies are trying to gain access to as much property as they can, leasing access for $10 to $15 a foot to provide options for pipeline development. Property owners who hold out and whose property is really important for a route could receive between $40 and $50 a foot, Wenger said.

During this point in the development process, infrastructure such as pipelines is key to moving forward in production, Fischbach said. Because routes can be redirected, small property owners typically don’t have “a lot of leverage,” he said.

The industry pays more based on the level of disruption, and for pipelines, there typically are about 60 days of disruption, Fischbach said.


1James_S(268 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The iron fist. "Eminent Domain". The Feds are letting their iron fist be used against the landowners through their tyrannical "eminent domain". No freedom. No such thing as freedom anymore.
And, lest we forget, our "representatives" and their cohorts have decided to EXPORT the gas and oil. Not to mention how the EPA is disregarding and burying evidence that fracking does not protect the environment.
What I and others say does not matter anyway...
Go ahead and propagate your masters' agenda...

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2mouse(112 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Are you people telling me that our service men died for nothing? Are you going to just let their sacrifices be in vain? When are you going to stand up & do more than complain?
It is almost to late so, I suggest you organize & march on your state capital & take action by letting your elected officials know they are there to serve the voters, not those who are trying to take advantage of ohioan's? Be respectful but make sure they understand what you want & need now!

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376Ytown(1371 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don't know and I don't care.

The people of Ohio are not stupid. Mouse is right. People need to step up and be heard because our representatives are there to serve voters. They are only following the money and probably filling their pockets. The more voices speak up the louder the message. Don't just sit there...do something before it's too late. Make a phone call or send an email to your representative. You can do that with very little effort.

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4BIGDRILL(36 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Eminent domain exists so that a few can't stop what benefits many. Without it we would have no highways, electric lines, water pipelines and last but not least no gas or oil pipelines.

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5Metz10987(145 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

It also exsists so the few can take what they want by force. If they gave you a fair deal to begin with and did try to be greedy and rip you off they would not have to take it from your land from you and give you nothing. It is a strongarm tactic nothing more.

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6300(573 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Also, this article is more propaganda than information. One case in point, the price per foot.

It's utter garbage that nobody's received more than $15 a foot. I have been offered, and know others as well, far more than that. But, I've already told them time and again, that the answer is no, I won't have an easement on my land that pretty much ruins its value.

But, the case remains, I was offered nearly 10x $15/foot to allow it on my property. So the idea that landowners are out of their mind when they bring up prices is BS.

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7bmanresident(607 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

And here come the anti-fracking hippies to say that all of this energy is bad, bad , bad. They will ride in their fossil fuel burning cars to their little picket lines, type on their not solarpowered computers and complain about evil businesses! All the while wearing polyester shirts made of, you guessed it, FOSSIL FUELS!

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8300(573 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

^ Spoken like a person who lives in town and doesn't own any land.

Work hard, my friend, and maybe one day you too will own something worthwhile. Then we'll see how you act when people come in and try to weasel their way onto your land.

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9southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Big government at work again...take what they want in the interest of the people...um, themselves

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10oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

All this talk about protests etc.
Take responsibility for yourselves and get informed.
Eminent Domain actions with regard to pipelines is rare. All you have to do is ask for the copies of the documents from the FEC that allows eminent domain.
If a contractor came to your door and said they had the right to put a road through your property would you just say ok?
No! You would ask for proof.
Just because you don't understand oil and gas leases and right of ways doesn't relieve you of personal responsibility, get informed.

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11Roger_Thornhill(1068 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Are you saying you were offered $150 per foot for an easement through your property?

What county do you live in?

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12timOthy(802 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

30 inch line should pay 100 to 200. or this farm boy say take it elsewhere .

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13oh13voter(1208 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

You make my point perfectly. You just spew uneducated misinformation.

If they do give 100 - 200 make sure the rest of the ROW agreement has terms that protect your property. Otherwise it isn't worth any amount of money.

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