The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Updates Guidelines for Unitization


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources (the “Division”) has recently updated and streamlined its procedural guidelines for application for unitization under Ohio Revised Code § 1509.28 (“Unitization Applications”). The updates, effective from May 23, 2023, impact both what is submitted with an application and how an application is submitted.

There are a number of significant changes affecting both the contents and form of unitization applications going forward.

  • Applications no longer require the submission of pre-filed testimony from a landman, a reservoir engineer, and a geologist.[1]
  • The explanatory portions of the application are to be submitted on a form developed and provided by the Division.[2]
  • The form and format of exhibits to the application are now provided via the Division’s website.[3]
  • The unitization procedural guidelines are now accompanied by a detailed set of instructions.[4]
  • To review all of the changes made, please see the Division’s posted documentation at Unitization Application Process | Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ohiodnr.gov).

These changes are aimed at streamlining the review process for unitization applications. The staff at the Division review all Unitization Applications and then deem an application complete and schedule it for a hearing or request revisions from the applicant. Thus, the hope is that applications including fewer documents and following standardized formats decrease agency burden and require fewer revisions by applicants before hearings.

The requirements for a Unitization Application to receive an order remain unchanged with these new procedures. All Unitization Applications still require a non-refundable filing fee of ten-thousand dollars.[5] Applicants and their working interest partners must represent a 65% interest within a given unit.[6] The target formation must meet Ohio’s definition of a pool or part of a pool.[7] The proposed unit operations must be reasonably necessary to increase the ultimate recovery of oil or gas from the unit and that value must exceed the additional costs.[8]

Ohio’s unitization statute was first adopted as part of the oil and gas regulatory package in 1965 following the Morrow County Boom. From the 1965 adoption through 2010, the unitization statute was seldom used during that initial period. There was only a single unit order issued by the Chief of the Division. However, the Utica Shale has required an approach to development that frequently involves the use of Ohio Revised Code § 1509.28 applications. Since 2012, more than 380 unit orders impacting more than 700 proposed wells have been issued. Thus far, Unitization Applications have been used in a role akin to mandatory pooling in Ohio’s regulation of Utica Shale development. Going forward, the streamlined process accomplished by the combination of the revised procedural guidelines and application instructions will impact operators seeking to address the challenges of Ohio’s Utica Shale and/or Marcellus Shale resources.

[1] Unitization Application Procedural Guidelines Revised April 2023.

[2] Instructions for Ohio Revised Code § 1509.28 Application for Unit Operations Revised May 2023.

[3] Id., generally.

[4] Id., generally.

[5] O.R.C. § 1509.28(B)(1).

[6] O.R.C. § 1509.28(A)(1).

[7] Id.

[8] O.R.C. § 1509.28(D).

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Taylor has a great ability to see the big picture when working with legal and land teams and draws on his own former in-house experience to stay focused on his client's business goals while reducing legal risk as much as possible.

Taylor's practice includes corporate transactions, litigation, regulatory compliance, and title matters. He spends a significant amount of time representing oil and gas producers throughout Ohio’s unitization process and has advised on more than 120 R.C. 1509.28 unitization applications. Taylor has represented Utica Shale operators at all points of the unitization process before the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas in connection with Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale drilling units.

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