LISBON - The owners of three parcels of property on Kirk Road in Fairfield Township have filed a lawsuit seeking to have an old gas lease with Columbia Gas Transmission LLC declared terminated.
Kenneth and Pamela Baer, the owners of nearly 98 acres, claim the two nearly identical oil and gas leases with the Manufacturers Light and Heat Company dated from June 1960 should be found forfeited for several reasons.
Columbia Gas and the Baers both became the eventual successor of the leases. According to the lawsuit filed by the Baers' Boardman attorneys, Sean Richard Scullin and Timothy Joseph Cunning, Columbia Gas is not currently conducting operations on their property, not currently searching for oil or gas on the property and not currently storing gas beneath the property.
Although the Baers reportedly notified Columbia Gas in writing on Sept. 15, 2010 about the change of ownership for the property, the company allegedly has continued to fail to pay the quarterly rent agreed upon in the lease. In November of 2010, the Baers reportedly notified Columbia Gas affidavits of forfeiture of the lease. On the same date, Columbia Gas filed an attempt to preserve its interest in the lease.
However, the lawsuit claims Columbia Gas has continued to fail to make timely rental payments under the terms of the lease. Again the company was notified on March 22, 2012 of the Baers' intentions for the property lease to be forfeited.
Among other things, the lawsuit asks for the lease to be terminated and for Columbia Gas to be ordered to file a release of the leases with the Columbiana County recorder. It also requests punitive damages due to an unreasonable and malicious delay, but does not set a dollar figure on the amount of damages being requested.
In an affidavit by a Columbia Gas representative, which is attached to the lawsuit, it is noted the Baer properties are part of the Brinker Storage Field, which it states is a storage field federally certificated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 29, 1944 and June 6, 1947 for recovery and distribution during peak periods of usage during colder months. It also states the field was ordered a certificate for continued operation and has continued to be utilized.
The Brinker Storage Field was brought up by county Commissioner Mike Halleck
during Wednesday's meeting. Halleck said he
has been in contact with residents concerned about the storage field, which is on 35,000 acres of property in Columbiana County. Halleck said there is a bill being introduced which would try to find a remedy for property owners and he would be reporting on the issue later.
Property owners who were signed to the leases in the 1950s and 1960s have in known cases been unable to sign deals with gas companies currently looking to drill deep hydraulic fracking wells due to their earlier storage leases, which pay little in compensation, as little as $200 a year.