New county gas agreement readies for next shale boom

YOUNGSTOWN — Mahoning County now has rights to any Utica shale deposits underneath county-owned land in Canfield, under a new lease agreement with Ohio Valley Energy approved this morning.

“Under the current old leases, the gas company actually has the rights all the way from the surface to the center of the earth,” said Tim Tusek, the assistant county prosecutor who worked on the arrangements.

“The best part is there is a real possibility the Utica development will come back to this area, and when it does, the commissioners will be in a position to be able to benefit from it.”

The existing wells run below about 270 acres west of the Canfield Fairgrounds, near the Mahoning County Experimental Farm operated in partnership with the Ohio State University Extension office there. Tusek said though the wells do bring in a “small” revenue source for the county and offer free gas for the adjacent properties.

The wells were drilled about 30 years ago, but were sold to Ohio Valley Energy at the end of 2015, said company President Charlie Masters.

Tusek said some shale development is still happening near the border of Mahoning and Columbiana counties, including Springfield and Unity townships, but gas drillers led a Mahoning Valley “gold rush” about five years ago.

The county’s original lease for the Canfield wells was signed sometime around 1989, Tusek said.

“Back 30 years ago, nobody had ever contemplated the possibility of ever doing anything beyond the shallow wells,” he said. “This is all new technology … in terms of decades.”

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