Federal Judge Rules for EQT in Ohio Lease Dispute – Ramifications

An important decision was recently made in a lease case in Ohio–a case which has implications for both drillers and landowners with Marcellus/Utica leases. Driller EQT signed a lease with Jefferson County, OH landowner Alex Cooper on Oct. 6, 2008. The initial term of the lease was for five years, with a five year extension IF EQT makes an extension payment. The lease also stipulates that EQT MUST drill a well on or before Oct 6, 2013–the end of the first term of the lease. EQT opted to extend the lease, making (or rather attempting to make) a payment to Cooper–but EQT did not drill a well by Oct 6, 2013. Cooper claimed since EQT hadn’t drilled, the lease expired on Oct 6, 2013 and he is free to lease again. The case ended up in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley decided in favor of EQT, even though the language in the lease stipulates a well MUST be drilled during the first term of the lease. How and why did Judge Marbley decide the case as he did? Below is a recap of the case, followed by a copy of the full decision from Judge Marbley…

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