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COLUMBUS—Many eyes are on the Ohio Supreme Court as it muddles through the question of which Ohio Dormant Mineral Act applies to surface rights and mineral rights owners. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on one case June 18 involving the Ohio Dormant Mineral Act and heard another case June 23.

Ohio Dormant Minerals Act

The Dormant Mineral Act governs the ownership rights of minerals that have been severed from the surface lands. It establishes conditions and procedures by which the ownership of mineral rights are preserved with the mineral holder or abandoned to the owner of the surface lands. The 1989 version of the Dormant Minerals Act has been described as a “use it or lose it” statute: If the mineral interest owners did not “use” their mineral interests during a 20-year time period, they automatically vested in the surface owner.

The 2006 version of the Dormant Minerals Act says the surface owner must adhere to a multi-step process to accomplish the merging of the surface and mineral interests. The surface owner must confirm that the oil and gas mineral interests have not been used within the previous 20 years. Dodd v. Croskey. The Supreme Court of Ohio rendered its first decision regarding Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act in the case of Dodd v. Croskey, with significant implications for landowners and owners to mineral rights involving Utica shale.

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