Carroll County Shale Deals Getting Better

Chesapeake drilling in Carroll County
For about four years now, natural gas exploration companies have been signing leases with Carroll County landowners to drill in the Utica shale.  Some of the early signers are regretting their decision, says a recent report in the Salem News.

''When they came through in the last three to four years getting leases signed, people were getting $50 an acre to sign the lease, and now they're getting over $5,000 an acre,'' Carroll County Commissioner Thomas Wheaton said recently. ''If you own 100 acres, that's $500,000 you'd get just to sign your name.''

As of mid-January, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources showed 101 Utica shale wells permitted.  Four are already operating, and 31 are permitted to begin drilling.  More after the jump...

While the economic benefits are already clear, the drilling activity doesn't come without challenges.  For instance, Linda Yeager of the Soil and Water Conservation District mentions that drilling pads take up 10 to 15 acres, in addition to space lost to access roads.  Also, it won't be until well after the well outlives its usefulness and the site has been restored that the land will again become available for growing crops.

However, Yeager goes on to say "They've been cooperative.  We've been out to some of the sites for Chesapeake (Energy Corp.), and what we see is they're doing a pretty good job of taking care of the natural resources and water and erosion."

Farm Bureau President John Davis adds that Chesapeake has been met with approval from residents as well.  "They're good housekeepers and good neighbors," he said.  "They're environmentally friendly.  They drill under the creeks and roads, not through them."

Most who have signed leases recently are happy, even if they do have any concerns over the controversial fracking process or the other effects on the county.  Signing bonus money has enabled many to pay off loans and buy new trucks and equipment or pay for repairs and construction.

Some who signed leases early on aren't so pleased, however.  ''On some leases, some of the older leases, where people felt that they got ripped off, when they signed them, it was a good deal. Maybe now it's a lot different,'' Commissioner Wheaton said. ''They're more educated now. People signed leases without working with an attorney, without asking questions out of their own knowledge. We have no one to blame but ourselves.''

The advice given:  don't sign anything without first consulting an attorney.

Have you signed a lease?  Are you pleased with the return you got?  How do you feel about the changes the drilling have effected on the county?  Discuss it here or on the Daily Digger Forum.

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