According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Chesapeake Energy is attempting to change the terms of leases with Ohio landowners—after the leases were signed. One of the issues faced by Chesapeake is that they have signed, or purchased, a lot of leases in Ohio’s Utica Shale (and other shale plays for that matter). In Ohio, it amounts to leases for about 5% of Ohio’s total land area.
In order to fulfill their end of the bargain, Chesapeake must drill wells on all that land within a certain period of time—usually within five years. At least one well must be drilled on a “unit,” usually defined as 640 acres of land, or one square mile. Multiple landowner properties are usually part of a single unit.
But Chesapeake has a problem: cash. They don’t have enough of it right now to drill all of those units to “hold” them. So they’re redefining the unit—they now want a unit to be two square miles in stead of one square mile.