Mohican Basin Landowners Waiting For the Right Offer

From The Daily Record in Wooster:

WOOSTER -- Be patient. Be strong. Stick together.
That's the message the leadership of the Mohican Basin Landowners Association is telling the group's members as property owners wait and see whether an energy company shows interest in signing a lease for oil and gas drilling rights.
The Mohican group formed in January 2011 to protect water, soil and land from exploitation by unscrupulous energy companies. It emerged at a time when some property owners were signing leases with bonus payments of $20 an acre, a figure considered too low.
Since then, other landowner groups have formed, like the Holmes Energy Leasing Partnership, the Killbuck Valley Landowners Association, Apple Creek Landowners Group and the Neighbors of Eastern Wayne and Western Stark Landowners Association.With a glut of lease activity in 2011, the presence of oil and gas drillers seemed imminent.
However, drillers are trying to find the western edge of the Utica Shale, according to Clark Sprang, a member of the Mochican Basin Landowners group. A well in Ashland County drilled by Devon Energy Corp. has started the hydraulic fracturing process, and there is another well in process near Lodi.
"We're waiting on pricing to get a little better, it softened," Sprang said. "I think it's too early to sign. We need to be patient. What's down there has been there for millions of years. We don't have to sell it this week."
The MBLA's overarching philosophy is to make sure the lease terms are the best for the landowners' 170,000 acres. The upfront, bonus money is important, but long after the money is gone, property owners will still have to deal with the lease, Sprang said.
In Baughman Township, Bob Graber started the NEWWS group in his home with about 20 people. By the time of the group's second meeting, there were 125 people in attendance. The group is now representing more than 28,000 acres, and it is growing every day, Graber said.
Because the group is relatively new, Graber said it is crossing one bridge at a time. He receives calls from financial planners who want to speak to members, but when there is a need for financial planning, distribution and estate planning, he will bring them in.
Baughman Township is an agriculture-centered one. There are several farms in the state's farmland preservation program, and it has about 3,700 acres of farmland protected in an Agricultural Security Area.
So, for Graber and the group, the protective covenants in a lease agreement are very important.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Sprang said. "We have to get this right."

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