Ohio drillers pay $302.6M to improve local roads

Drillers in Ohio’s Utica Shale have spent $302.6 million on improving roads in eight Ohio counties from 2011 through the first quarter of 2017, Kallanish Energy reports.

That resulted in nearly 640 miles of roads, bridges and culverts being improved – at no cost to taxpayers.

That information was released Tuesday in a new report from Energy in Depth (EID) Ohio and the Ohio Oil & Gas Association.

The key to what happened in Ohio is Road Use Maintenance (RUMA) agreements involving drilling companies and county engineers who oversee local roads.

Those agreements have provided “a tremendous benefit” to Ohio counties, said Shawn Bennett, executive director of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association during a teleconference.

Those agreements are “pretty unique to Ohio,” said Jackie Stewart of EID Ohio.

The agreements are required in order to get drilling permits and cover roads traveled by drilling traffic.

The amount spent on roads by the eight major drillers in Ohio were: Belmont County, $62.4 million spent on 93 miles of roadway; Guernsey, $53.1 million on 137 miles; Carroll, $44.7 million on 99.33 miles; Monroe, $41.8 million on 14.92 miles; Columbiana, $32.6 million on 89.77 miles; Harrison, $31.4 million on 54.75 miles; Jefferson, $24.1 million on 78.52 miles; and Noble, $12.6 million on 14.92 miles.

The money may have been spent to turn gravel roads into paved roads, replace bridges or add guardrails and painted lines.

How much is spent in an individual county and how many miles are improved depend largely on where the wells being drilled are located and the shape of nearby roads, Stewart said.

The data came from Freedom of Information requests filed with counties and information released by the drilling companies, she said.

In an earlier report, EID and the Ohio Oil & Gas Association found drillers had provided $43 million from 2010 to 2015 in real estate property taxes or ad valorem taxes, in six Ohio counties. Those counties are expected to see an additional $200 million to $250 million in property taxes over the next 10 years.