Landowners find strength in numbers

BELLAIRE – A new group of local landowners is working together to make the most of the area’s land lease opportunities. The Ohio Valley Royalties Group LLC is seeking membership from both leased and non-leased property owners.

The group’s principles are Jeff Paolina, Muxie Distributing; Tony Francis, owner and operator of United Masonry; attorneys Richard Lancione and Tracy Lloyd Lancione; and Diana Kennon, public accountant.

They said they are united by common interest and are resolved to get results.

“We’re all landowners and some of us have current leases, some of us are looking to get leases, and we all have a professional relationship with each other,” Paolina said, adding that with the many out of town companies taking an interest in properties, locals could be at risk of not getting the best deal they could.

They point out the value of collective negotiation.

“We feel that we can help negotiate and provide local residents with the best possible lease and royalties agreement,” Paolina said.

Paolina said the group has been operating for about 60 days and covers Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson and Harrison counties. Their overall goal is for their group to include about 5,000 acres and negotiate from a position of strength.

Paolina added that they intend to negotiate a proposal and present it to the group 60-90 days after reaching their acreage goal.

“We’re going to go straight at it and get it done and wrapped up,” he said. “We feel confident we’ll be able to come back with a proposal, then they can make their decision.”

He noted that the principle members were all professionals and have hired consultants.

“We have a good feel for what needs to happen,” Paolina said. “We’ve done our homework and we feel we’re adequately equipped to negotiate a deal.”

Paolina added that they will enter into negotiation with a base objective of $5,200-$5,600 per acre and 22 percent in royalties, since these are the going rates.

“We have a vested interest. What we get for ourselves, we would work on for others,” Paolina said.

He noted that if a prospective member of their group has an existing lease and wants to sell their royalties, the group can also shop royalties to companies as a bundled agreement. They have the option of selling royalties all up front as well.

Paolina said the group is close to their goal. Once their target acreage is met, they will enter into negotiations and present the prospective agreement to group members, followed by a legally binding agreement.

The agreement would also include an addendum to prevent water recycling and to address other issues of land integrity. Property owners inclined to allow such operations would have to negotiate separate agreements with the oil and gas interests.

He said joining the group creates no legal obligation.

They have held four meetings in Bellaire. Meetings are also scheduled for April 25 and May 2 at Union Local High School at 6 p.m. Registration runs from 5-6 p.m.

“We’re trying to spread it out,” said Paolina. “If you are currently enrolled with another group you can still join Ohio Valley Royalties. The more options local landowners have the better off they are.”

He said the response to date from landowners has been exceptional, with average attendance of about 100 people.

For more information, contact Megan Carey, director of enrollment, at (740) 526-1701 or visit their Web site at

DeFrank can be reached at