Landowners shouldn’t sign anything until they know what type of pipeline is being put in, what size it will be, what the construction width and depth will be and what it will carry. They also need to know exactly where the easement will go and ask to see the map showing details of the easement.
“Pipeline maps have been changing almost weekly based on the concentration of drilling permits and plans to processing plants and other related infrastructure,” said Dale Arnold, OFBF’s director of energy services. He said having Senate Bill 315 go into effect in early September has resulted in a flurry of pipeline development because the permit process is more streamlined now. Most of the activity is in counties east of Interstate 71, Cincinnati and west central Ohio.
George Mizer of Harrison County recently had a 30-inch pipeline cut across 5 ½ miles of his corn and beef cattle farm. The pipeline will carry ethane, one of several natural gas liquids being collected and processed for a variety of chemical feedstock and fuel applications He explored key issues landowners need to consider in pipeline easement negotiations when he was in Columbus for an OFBF meeting.
“So far it’s been great to work with the companies,” he said. “People need to know it’s beneficial to both sides and that it takes up to 75 feet of your land forever.”
Arnold recommended landowners hire an attorney experienced with pipeline easements before signing any contracts. He has been holding informational meetings three to four times a week across the state.
Highlights of what to ask leasing agents:
- What material is being transported: Natural gas or oil.
- What type of pipeline: Interstate, the largest system of transportation pipelines governed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; intrastate, established pipelines used for utility applications or new systems being created for transporting natural gas liquids — both governed by Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Ohio Power Siting Board; or collection systems, networks of pipelines used to collect oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids from well to a central collection point and governed by ODNR.
- What is the diameter of the pipeline: Ranges from 8 inches to 64 inches.
- What is the easement location: Avoid “blanket” language allowing a right of way to be established almost anywhere; make sure it is clearly identified on the property.
- What is the pipeline depth: While Ohio has good minimum standards, landowners can negotiate the depth based on how deep subsurface drainage systems, water lines and other buried infrastructures are on the property.
- What are the temporary and final depths: A temporary easement width of 50 feet could give way to 30 feet after all construction is completed.
- What is pipeline pressure: Is it low pressure or high pressure (higher potential risk determines payout).
- Use of the right of way after construction is completed: Landowners retain rights to use easement areas for normal agricultural use; consider future uses and timber reimbursement.
- What are damage payments: Ask for payment of damages for property and crops destroyed by construction activity, pipelines and access roads.
To request a pipeline easement informational meeting, contact your county Farm Bureau or see the already scheduled meetings. Photo by Michele Specht