An invisible line traces a 25,000-acre oval in the hills of Columbiana County that separates the haves from the have-nots.
Outside the line are instantly wealthy corn, soybean and dairy farmers. Inside are folks waiting for their windfall.
Dozens of the landowners are blocked from cashing in on energy-rich shale below their property because of an underground gas storage field between the more than mile-deep shale and their pastures.
Many of the farmers were surprised to learn that their acres sit on top of a sandstone repository called the Brinker Storage Field that is leased by Columbia Gas Transmission.Jill McNicol, a veterinarian, and her husband Patrick, a high school math teacher, didn't know about the storage field when Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy swept through Columbiana County in the summer of 2010. The energy giant moved at lightning speed, nailing down as much promising shale terrain as possible.
The McNicols, who live on a rolling spread they call Cool Springs Farm with their two children, five dogs, some sturdy Connermara ponies and other animals, agreed on a signing bonus from Chesapeake. They were in line for more than $375,000 to lease the mineral rights under their 65 acres near the village of Leetonia, about 25 miles south of Youngstown. But the deal was on the condition that Chesapeake got clear title to the mineral rights.
When Chesapeake circled back for more thorough property research, it found that land in the Brinker region was encumbered by long-standing gas leases.Read the rest of the article here.
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