NEW PHILADELPHIA: The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District on Friday said it intends to seek a drilling lease with Antero Resources for district-owned land at Seneca Lake.
The terms of the lease agreement with the Colorado-based energy firm have not yet been finalized, said district spokesman Sean Logan.
It is unclear how long it might take to negotiate such a lease and submit the proposal to the district’s governing board for final approval.
The district is willing to lease its land for drilling but does not want drilling pads, wells and facilities on its land, said district spokesman Mark Swiger.
The district owns about 7,600 acres at Seneca Lake in Noble and Guernsey counties, most of which has not been leased for drilling for natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids in the Utica shale. The 3,550-acre lake is the third largest inland lake in Ohio.
The possible drilling at Seneca Lake drew about 90 people to an Oct. 17 public meeting in Senecaville organized by the district.
A total of 13 companies had expressed interest in the Seneca Lake property with two firms, Antero and Texas-based Carrizo Oil and Gas, making formal presentations on Nov. 7, officials said.
It was not clear how many wells might be drilled at Seneca Lake with such a lease agreement.
The lease terms will likely be similar to those negotiated between the district and Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy Corp. for a 2011 lease at Clendening Lake in Harrison County and with Chesapeake Energy Corp. or a 2012 lease at Leesville Lake in Carroll County.
Gulfport paid the district a $15.6 million lease bonus on 2,800 acres and royalties on natural gas produced.
Chesapeake paid the district $21.5 million in lease bonuses on 3,700 acres plus royalties.
The district has about 275 older traditional wells on district-owned land.
The district’s plans to lease for drilling and to sell water to drillers has come under fire from the grassroots group the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water.
The group earlier this week released a water report by Paul Rubin of HydroQuest in Accord, N.Y. The report calls for halting hydraulic fracturing or fracking in Eastern Ohio — imposing a moratorium on water sales and beginning public health and environmental studies of the threat.
The risk is that older wells have or will fail with fracking nearby and that would pose a threat to residents, public health and the lakes, the report says.
In other news, the district began on Nov. 1 lowering eight reservoirs for the winter.
The lakes will be lowered from 3 to 8 feet — with up to 22 billion gallons of water being released.
That draw down affects Atwood, Charles Mill, Clendening, Leesville, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Seneca and Tappan lakes. Charles Mill be lowered 3 feet; Leesville and Tappan will both be lowered 8 feet.
The district last month said it would make that water available to the driller. Two requests were approved in Oct. 19 and a third was rejected.
No new requests for the draw down water have been submitted, Logan said on Friday.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.