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Ohio Supreme Court takes up the question of when drilling leases are void
Some 700 property owners could be directly affected

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M.L. Schultze
Control of leases is among the disputes that have arisen since fracking expanding oil and gas drilling in Ohio this decade.
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The Ohio Supreme court will hear arguments this week on whether property owners can be locked into oil and gas leases even if no drilling is taking place – and they never get any royalties.  WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the case that involves millions of dollars and hundreds of property owners.

LISTEN: A preview of the drilling debate

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The case pits the owners of two family farms in southeastern Ohio against Beck Energy – headquartered in Portage County. But the decision will impact an estimated 700 people who signed similar leases. 

The property owners signed the deals with Beck and expected to get royalties and bonuses. When Beck didn’t drill, they contacted the company, which said it had not started because there were no pipelines built nearby yet. 

The landowners claim Beck is trying to sit on their property permanently.  Beck says it just wants a 10-year window set by precedent in Ohio law and claims the property owners are trying to break the leases because they’re getting a better offer.

Lower courts split. Now the state high court will take up the questions, including whether the leases are void.  

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