Regional conference focuses on protecting rights of mineral owners

MARTINS FERRY — National Association of Royalty Owners Appalachia members, oil and gas industry professionals and government officials from across the region met at the Greenbrier Resort late last month to discuss issues pertinent to the industry at the seventh-annual NARO Appalachia Conference.

Government and industry advocates from Ohio presenting at the conferenece included Monroe County Commissioner Mick Schumacher, Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, Jackie Stewart of Energy In Depth Ohio and Dale Arnold of the Ohio Farm Bureau. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., gave updates on activity in the Appalachian Basin, while the keynote speaker for the event was Doug Matheney, special adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Fossil Fuel Energy and the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Of particular interest were the presentations regarding ongoing litigation in both Ohio and West Virginia pertaining to post-production costs,” said NARO Appalachia President Robert Mead.

“NARO is dedicated to the proposition that royalty owners should be fairly compensated for the minerals withdrawn from their property.”

Stewart spoke about the number of jobs that are being created regionally, and about ways mineral owners can educate the public about construction and drilling products.

Schumacher, meanwhile, was one of several panelists in a discussion that focused on different agencies collaborating toward common goals.

“The issue regarding drilling on state lands … originated from a citizen’s visit to a Monroe County commissioners’ meeting,” Schumacher said. “That visit resulted in subsequent meetings involving various entities from opposite ends of the table coming together to work together for the common good of the people.”

Through those meetings, it was found that the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission had vacant seats that had not been filled since its establishment in 2011, and because Gov. John Kasich had not filled those seats, private property owners and the state were unable to manage their mineral resources.

Thompson said without those appointments, private property owners are not able to explore what minerals they have on their own properties if the properties can’t be accessed other than through state-owned land.

“When it was realized that the barrier was the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission — that barrier being the fact that those seats had never been filled in the seven years of the governor’s two terms in office — the Ohio House and Senate wrote legislation to fill those seats. That legislation was struck from the budget by the governor in a line item veto, but the legislature overrode that veto,” Schumacher said. “NARO was a huge player in connecting the dots and facilitating the meetings with legislators and others.”

Schumacher said the conference was informative and well-organized.

“All of the presenters were well-equipped to assist royalty owners as they navigate through the many challenges facing them in the recent oil and gas upturn,” Schumacher noted. “Monroe County and Clarington, Ohio were front and center in many discussions held at the conference. The recent leasing of Wayne National Forest lands in Monroe County was referenced and discussed, as well. Pipeline activity and the potential PTT (Global Chemical) cracker project was also of local focus and discussed at the conference.”