Ohio gas, oil drilling soars; now Cuyahoga County mayors to meet

12:29 PM, Jun 11, 2008   |    comments
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But the fuel costs they are talking about are the impending costs for natural gas to heat their homes this coming winter. That's why the Cuyahoga County Mayors & City Managers Association has asked the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to address the group's meeting later this month, to see how local communities can address what will surely be a "gold rush" of individual property owners and municipalities having natural gas wells drilled in the county. Noise and safety issues are foremost in the mayors' minds. This "gold-in-them-thar-hills-rush" is despite recent worrying incidents, like an improperly installed well cap on one drilling rig in Geauga County that allowed methane gas to seep into wells in Bainbridge Township. On Dec. 15, a home on English Drive in the township was knocked off its foundation by an explosion in the basement. The explosion was due to a build-up of methane gas. The source of the methane gas was traced to a nearby well being drilled on another English Drive property by Ohio Valley Energy Corp. The methane was soon found to have contaminated the water wells in dozens of homes in the area. Those homeowners are still unable to drink their well water and township officials are talking about possibly installing "city water" pipelines to service the homes, at great expense. At least one township official, along with dozens of township residents, expect Ohio Valley Energy to pay all the costs for the waterline. That expectation was bolstered last month. In mid-May, ODNR's Division of Mineral Resources Management determined that Ohio Valley Energy was at fault for the Dec. 15 explosion. While drilling for the nearby gas well, Ohio Valley Energy installed a concrete casing that was deficient and did not adequately vent the area. Natural gas prices are expected to soar in the fall, adding insult to injury to already gas-strapped homeowners and drivers. Drilling for natural gas on your own property would give homeowners relief and plenty of gas to heat their homes for free. That's why ODNR is already seeing an increase in homeowners having oil and gas drilling companies drill for gas on their land. In 2007, according to ODNR, wells in Ohio produced oil and natural gas worth more than $1 billion. Of that amount, property owners got about $154 million in fees and royalties, plus free natural gas to use in their homes. Ohio legislators approved the Great Lakes Compact Tuesday and Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to sign it today. The compact protects the lake's water from being diverted to water-challenged states. But could drilling for natural gas under those waters have been another impetus for keeping the lakes under lock-and-key? In 2003, then-Governor Bob Taft banned drilling for gas in Lake Erie. So far, Strickland has supported that ban since he took office in 2006. But will that ban continue? Current estimates put the amount of natural gas under Lake Erie at 1.1 trillion cubic feet. Will that prove too tempting for gas-hungry Ohio?

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