Responding to a surge in applications, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has issued rules for new applications. After being relatively unused for decades, the unitization statute (R.C. 1509.28) has found new life in the current shale play and the state agency overseeing the process decided it was time to lay down some groundrules.

The new rules mostly serve to clarify the statutory requirements, but there are few substantive additions that aren’t required by statute:

  • Affidavit of attempts to lease. Most notably, the new rules require applicants to describe their efforts to lease the remaining acres in a proposed unit. The operator must identify specific details of each attempt to lease the mineral rights, including the dates of the attempts and the names of people contacted. This has long been an aspect of mandatory pooling, and has been a part of recent unitization orders, but until now was not a prerequisite to apply for unitization.
  • Visual depictions of the proposed unit. The rules describe specific dimensions and content requirement for maps and aerial photographs of proposed units.
  • Description of geological formations. The rules require a gamma-ray density log depicting the geological formations to be drilled in the proposed unit.
  • Large exhibits at hearings. As the audiences grow at unitization hearings, the new rules require applicants to bring large visual exhibits depicting many parts of the application (including the maps and aerial photographs of the proposed unit, and depictions of the geological formation).

Check out the new rules at the ODNR website. Issuing these new rules confirms what we’ve written before — unitization is a vital part of the legal and regulatory landscape of Ohio’s shale play.

For background on unitization and why ODNR has received a swell of new unitization applications, check out our blog series on mandatory pooling and unitization:

Part I: Mandatory Pooling and Unitization in Ohio, Part I: History and Constitutionality
Part II: A Tool of Last Resort: Mandatory Pooling in Ohio
Part III: Unitization in Ohio: Compelled Participation in the New Context of the Utica Shale