Oil and gas still generating taxes

LISBON — Oil and gas activity in Columbiana County may have slowed to a crawl, but there is still enough going on to have generated $1.6 million in property taxes between 2010 and 2015.

A report issued in April by Energy In Depth Ohio and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association stated nearly $1.1 million of those taxes came in 2015 as production significantly increased.

“Like many other Ohio counties, Columbiana County has been producing oil and gas for decades, and prior to the shale revolution, the total ad valorem tax from conventional production had been around $70,000 per year. But thanks to fracking that number jumped to $1,072,685 in 2015,” wrote report author Jackie Stewart.

According to OOGA, 60 wells are currently in production in the county at 20 locations and they produced a combined 491,295 barrels of oil and 61.4 million mcf of shale gas between 2010 and 2015. A mcf is equal to 1,000 cubic feet.

Stewart pointed out that these taxes are based on production from two years before, so the 2015 figures are based on 2013 production. “Considering Columbiana County’s Utica shale production showed moderate increases in 2014 and 2015, the county can expect higher tax receipts in 2016 and 2017,” she said.

In February, EID and OOGA issued a report detailing the property taxes generated by oil and gas production in Belmont, Carroll, Guernsey, Harrison, Monroe and Noble counties, where the activity is greater. They decided to expand the report to include other counties.

“In addition to this spike in tax revenue, Columbiana County Utica shale development has led to a $1.1 billion natural gas-fueled power plant, which will yield an incredible $30 million windfall to the county, townships and local school,” Stewart said.

Ad valorem taxes are the taxes paid by the operators of producing wells. School districts stand to benefit the most since they receive 70 percent of all property taxes.

The money from the property tax is nothing compared to what would come from the Nexus pipeline project, however. The pipeline would transport natural gas from the collection and processing plant in Kensington to Michigan and Canada, but property owners and communities have filed lawsuits seeking to block the proposed route.

EID and OOGA are reporting the pipeline could produce $33 million in taxes over the first five years of operation, with the county, United Local school district, county vocational school and the Franklin, Hanover, Knox and West townships being the beneficiaries.

The following is a breakdown by each government agency and how much they would benefit over the first five years:

United Local School District: $18.9 million

County Commissioners: $7.2 million

Franklin Township: $330,688

Hanover Township: $3.5 million

Knox Township: $241,740

West Township: $907,295

County Vocational School: $1.7 million