LORDSTOWN - At least 30 landowners who together own more than 5,000 acres will meet Thursday to discuss their plans to negotiate with the Houston-based energy company that has taken over leases for mineral rights on their land.
Halcon Resources Corp. in August paid NCL Appalachian Partners $194 million for Utica Shale drilling rights on about 31,000 acres in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, including much land in Lordstown. The original mineral rights leases with NCL Appalachian partners dated back as many as 50 years, members of the group said.
Since this summer's mineral rights transfer, Halcon has started contacting property owners about the possibility of amending the leases.
Members of the landowners group, calling themselves the Lordstown Regional Landowners Group, are hoping that negotiating those amendments as a group will give them better leverage in securing better protection and higher compensation for the landowners.
The group's attorney, Alan D. Wenger of Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, this week cautioned of the importance of treading slowly on mineral rights lease amendments.
''Lease amendments are a huge issue that is hitting a lot of property owners,'' Wenger said Monday while addressing a different group of landowners. While he didn't discourage amending leases, he stressed the importance of moving slowly and seeking legal advice.
''Be aware sometimes they want to change the language in your lease," Wenger said, pointing out that altering the language of the original lease could be detrimental to the landowner.
That's why the Lordstown group, headed by its president Michael Hodak, believes it is beneficial to negotiate collectively with the company.
''As a group, we can negotiate more effectively and more efficiently for the best terms," Hodak said. ''We are looking forward to working with Halcon to develop a mutually agreeable arrangement as soon as possible."
Wenger has begun drafting proposed amendments.
''We want to improve everyone's lot by negotiating some consideration to the landowners in exchange for meeting Halcon's needs,'' Hodak said.
Those needs stem from the fact that deep-well horizontal drilling requires more land than the amount needed for vertical drilling when the leases were originally signed decades ago.
Residents interested in gathering information or joining the group are welcome to attend the meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at United Auto Workers Local 1714 Union Hall, 2121 Salt Springs Road, Lordstown.