OH Court Rules on ‘Paying Quantities’ Affecting Lease Termination

A recent ruling from Ohio’s Seventh District Court of Appeals has the potential to affect conventional and unconventional (shale) leases. As with most legal rulings, this one is a bit complex. We’ll do our best to summarize. In Ohio, most oil and gas leases have both a primary term and a secondary term. The primary term is that period of time a driller has to locate and drill for oil or gas–typically five years. The secondary term is that period of time (which can last for decades) under which oil and gas is produced from the well. In most lease contracts, as long as the well is producing in “paying quantities” the lease remains in effect. But when the well does not produce in paying quantities, the lease is terminated and the landowner can seek a new lease. Of course, the definition of “paying quantities” is key. In a previous case, the Ohio Supreme Court defined paying quantities. However, the recent Seventh District Court case, Paulus v. Beck Energy Corp., added to, or should we say “refined” the definition provided by the Supreme Court by providing guidance on what items may be considered when determining paying quantities and lack of production in Ohio…

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