In the past decade, a lot of attention has been paid to modern hydraulically-fractured and horizontally drilled oil and gas wells that have increasingly populated Pennsylvania and Ohio. It can be easy to forget that this is not the first (or even second) round of energetic well drilling in the area. Many people deal with old wells on their property, some of which were drilled 50 or 60 years ago. Old wells - and old pipes, fittings, valves, tanks, and other infrastructure pieces - can be unreliable or even outright dangerous. Wells that provide "sour gas" - natural gas which is naturally rich in hydrogen sulfide, a chemical which corrodes metal, causes respiratory problems, blindness and death - can cause serious public health crises if they are not properly maintained. Even properly operating wells can go dry or nearly dry - leaving you with noisy and intrusive oil and gas equipment on your property with little to no royalties for the inconvenience.
These old wells do not simply sit on the property for no reason. By continuing to operate on the property, they continue the terms of the lease. This may prevent you - or even your neighbors - from entering into new leases with more favorable terms, including more respectful use of your surface property and even better royalty payments. Companies that sit on unproductive wells are often holding out for the opportunity to sell their interest in your lease to a new company with more money and better technology to access deeper mineral resources. This means that this other company - and not the landowners - will benefit from the renegotiated lease.
If you have an old well on your property - whether it was property you purchased or that which has been in the family for a long time - you may believe that there is little or nothing you can do about the continued operation of an old well. Don't allow yourself to be tricked or bullied into accepting an old well on your property if you don't have to. Contact an attorney that can review your lease and provide you with an independent assessment of whether you can force the removal of an old well from your property, or even re-negotiate your lease terms with the current well operator.
The attorneys at Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services are available to assist those in Pennsylvania and Ohio with lease review, dormant lease ejectment, and lease negotiation or re-negotiation. To begin a conversation with a Fair Shake Attorney, contact (OH) 234-571-1970 or (PA) 412-742-4615.