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Oil and Gas

Utica/Marcellus Shales

With decades of experience representing clients in oil and gas exploration, Vorys is well-positioned to provide legal counsel to those clients pursuing development of the Utica and Marcellus shales.  Vorys has represented key players in the ongoing exploration of the Utica and Marcellus, including producers, pipeline companies, and drilling and services companies.  Our attorneys are also leaders in the field; case in point, five of our partners have served as chair of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Natural Resources Law Committee.

Our attorneys understand the complexities associated with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing because they have counseled clients in each stage of the exploration process. With offices in Columbus, Cleveland, and Akron, Ohio, as well as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Vorys is located in the heart of the shale, which spans eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York.

Vorys advises its clients on all types of transactional work, from simple leasing and well-field service contracts to sophisticated joint venture and asset transactions, financing agreements and hedging programs. Our firm frequently represents clients in energy disputes before state and federal courts and arbitration panels, including those involving gas purchase and sales contracts, lease and joint operating agreements, bankruptcies and class-action royalty litigation.  Additionally, our energy lawyers regularly represent clients before state permitting agencies and public utilities commissions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies. Vorys attorneys have also advised energy businesses on tax issues that arise from oil and gas exploration.

Other relevant experience includes:

With more than 20 years of experience advising producers and pipeline operators in Ohio, Gregory Russell serves as the chair of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association’s Environmental Committee and recently stepped down as the chair of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Natural Resources Law Committee.  A frequent speaker on natural gas industry topics, including environmental, regulatory and natural gas market issues, Greg was also part of the stakeholder workgroup that developed hydraulic fracturing guidelines used by STRONGER, Inc., and its stakeholder review teams in evaluating state oil and gas environmental regulatory programs.

Jonathan Airey, of counsel in the Vorys Columbus office, serves as the legal committee chair for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.  He was the only attorney to testify about recent changes to the Ohio oil and gas regulatory code and played an integral role in the formation of the new policies that are regulating the Utica exploration. The law, which was adopted in 2010, modernized Ohio’s oil and gas regulations and ensures the proper protections for Ohio as it continues to explore the Utica.

John Keller has successfully litigated cases involving all types of oil and gas issues in Ohio, including an arbitration award of over $100 million against a Fortune 100 company.  At the time, it was the largest award ever received in the Midwest Region of the American Arbitration Association. In addition, John has represented borrowers and lenders in significant oil and gas loan transactions. For nearly 35 years, he has advised clients on oil and gas leasing matters and other real estate and contract issues.

Howard Petricoff, with over 20 years in the industry, recently served as a commissioner on the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission where he heard appeals from decisions of the chief of the Ohio Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management on matters of drilling, spacing and pooling.  In addition, Howard's experience is sought for assistance in connection with required infrastructure for storage, pipeline and gas distribution facilities, including obtaining permits from and handling hearings before the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Kevin Gormly, a partner in the Vorys Pittsburgh office, has significant experience in complex federal and state court oil and gas litigation.  He routinely handles litigation on behalf of operators involving joint operating agreements, farmout agreements, drilling contracts and joint venture agreements, as well as lease issues and title disputes. Kevin has represented an operator in recent case before the Pennsylvania Superior Court deciding that there is no implied duty to develop different strata in oil and gas leases.  In addition, he obtained summary judgment in Pennsylvania’s landmark case involving the deductibility of post-production costs in oil and gas leases.  Kevin frequently presents on legal topics related to the oil and gas industry.