Port tries to exit gas leases

WARREN – The Western Reserve Port Authority this week filed a lawsuit in an attempt to sever mineral rights lease agreements, some dating back to the 1970s, with several oil and gas companies.

Some of the contracts tied the board that controls the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to wells that are non-productive, attorneys representing the port authority said.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court against 15 oil and gas companies. No damages or monetary compensation is being sought.

”We are trying to get a declaration of rights under the lease because development is not going on as originally thought would be the case,” said attorney James Blomstrom of Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell, who is representing the port authority on the matter. ”Things have evolved over the years, and we are just trying to find out what rights the port authority has.”

Port authority attorney Dan Keating said once these mineral rights leases are cleared up, it could open the door for the port authority to pursue new mineral rights leases that could be more productive or lucrative.

”As I think with a lot of property owners, you have to clear the title first,” Keating said. ”We are hoping to look into some deep-well drilling if possible.”