The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is looking to add new lucrative Utica shale leases at Piedmont Lake.
The district manages more than 6,600 acres of property at Piedmont Lake, and most of it is not under lease for drilling in the Utica shale.
Officials said the district is preparing to begin negotiations with interested companies and it is the intent of the district to restrict oil and gas development to those areas that will minimize the impact on the lake and recreational activities.
That could include the possible prohibition of well pads and production lines on district property, commonly referred to as “nondevelopment leases,” the agency said.
The district has been contacted repeatedly in recent months by oil and gas development companies seeking to negotiate for the rights to access the Utica shale at Piedmont Lake that lies in Belmont, Guernsey and Harrison counties, officials said.
The district will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the James Carnes Center near St. Clairsville in Belmont County on the district’s plans to begin negotiating a lease on public-owned property at Piedmont Lake.
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The district had previously agreed to leases for property it owns at three other lake regions: Clendening Lake in Harrison County in 2011, Leesville Lake in Carroll County in 2012 and Seneca Lake in Guernsey and Noble counties in 2013.
Those leases produced $77.4 million in signing bonuses for the district.
That money has enabled the district to pay down its debt and to begin to upgrade its recreational facilities.
Last February, the district approved a $40.3 million natural gas lease with Colorado-based Antero Resources for 6,500 acres at Seneca Lake. The district will get a leasing bonus of $6,200 per acre plus a royalty of 20 percent on natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids from Antero wells under district-owned land.
Gulfport Energy paid the district $15.6 million plus royalties for 2,800 acres at Clendening Lake and Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. paid $21.5 million in lease bonuses on 3,700 acres at Leesville Lake plus royalties.
The Leesville and Seneca lakes leases are nondevelopment leases and the Clendening Lake lease restricts the number and location of drilling sites on district-owned property.
Stretching from Akron to the Ohio River, the district covers 14 reservoirs and dams in 18 counties. It owns 54,000 acres of public land.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.