The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is making less money from its Utica Shale wells, and that could restrict projects to improve the district’s parks and help surrounding communities.
But the district’s executive director said there are no immediate plans to increase the $6 annual assessment paid by landowners in Stark, Tuscarawas and Carroll counties, or to curtail projects that control flooding and improve water quality.
“We will make every effort to keep the 50-percent reduction in place as long as possible,” executive director John Hoopingarner said.
MWCD formed in 1933 to reduce floods and conserve water. It has four reservoirs and 10 lakes, such as Atwood. The district also owns 54,000 acres of land and covers all or part of 18 counties, many of them targeted by Utica Shale drillers.
Since 2011, the district has leased 23,800 acres to shale drillers. It collects royalties on 13 horizontal wells tapping oil and natural gas beneath district land.
MWCD estimated it would collect $7 million in horizontal-well royalties this year, but had collected only $2.6 million as of June. Royalties that month were down 71 percent from when they topped $1 million in December.Read more of this article by clicking right here.
The reduced royalties that the MWCD is dealing with is just a large-scale example, of course, of what landowners throughout the Utica shale area are seeing as activity continues to slow in the face of low oil and natural gas prices.
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