Monday was a record-setting day in Stark County Recorder Rick Campbell’s office.
Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. filed 1,046 leases for natural gas and oil drilling.
“It was a very busy day,” Campbell said.
The one-day filing represented the number of leases typically filed in a full year in Stark County, he said.
In 2010, Stark County handled 1,113 oil and gas leases.
Prior to the massive Chesapeake filing, Stark County had gotten 2,165 leases this year, Campbell said. Now the total is 3,211 — a 288 percent increase from 2010 — and growing.
In previous years, Stark County averaged about 300 such filings annually.
“There’s no doubt, the gas and oil companies are here to do business,” Campbell said.
Chesapeake also filed nearly 300 leases Friday in Portage County.
To date, 1,995 gas leases have been filed in Portage County this year, up from 1,309 in 2010, Recorder Bonnie Howe said.
The filing of that many new leases by Chesapeake Energy could position Stark and Portage counties to be players in development of the Utica shale in eastern Ohio. Activity currently is centered largely in Carroll County.
To date, Ohio has permitted 76 horizontal wells, of which 14 have been drilled. The process relies on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that some say poses a threat to groundwater and clean air.
An additional 58 vertical wells have been approved, of which 11 have been drilled.
To date, Chesapeake has state permits to drill three wells in Stark County: in Bethlehem, Washington and Osnaburg townships. Texas-based EnerVest Ltd. has state approval for a well in Marlboro Township.
The state has approved wells in Suffield, Freedom and Palmyra townships in Portage County.
Drillers plan additional wells in Medina and 14 other Ohio counties.
The Stark County filing by Chesapeake was the biggest one-day filing of leases in the 12 years Campbell has been recorder, he said. It took his office from 10 a.m. until about 3:30 p.m. to process all the paperwork a Chesapeake representative submitted.
People bringing in other leases to be filed were forced to wait or to come back at a later time, he said.
The Chesapeake official offered no explanation why the company submitted the 1,046 leases at one time, Campbell said, nor advance warning.
Campbell said it was not immediately known how many acres were involved in the 1,046 leases. That total had not been compiled, although the acreage is listed on each lease, he said.
Lake Township has the most gas leases among the 3,211 filed this year with 537.
It had 110 leases filed in 2010.
Second in 2011 is Washington Township with 400, Lexington Township is third with 380 and Paris Township with 318.
Of the leases filed in Stark this year, Chesapeake Energy is involved in 2,435, or nearly 76 percent.
How much money might be involved in leasing bonuses Chesapeake paid to landowners is not part of the paperwork filed with his office, Campbell said.
Drillers typically sign leases of up to 10 years that provide an annual bonus to landowners. That bonus can be as much as $5,000 per acre per year in some Ohio counties.
Campbell’s office collected $31,572 in fees from the Chesapeake filing, he said. The county shares that money with the state.
Chesapeake Energy did not return calls for additional comment Tuesday.
The company has invested about $2 billion in leasing 1.5 million acres in eastern Ohio. It has said it might drill as many as 12,000 wells in the Utica shale that lies in bands up to 300 feet thick more than 6,000 feet below ground. The company has said its holdings might produce tens of billions of dollars from drilling.
Chesapeake has revealed results from three promising Ohio wells: one in Harrison County and two in Carroll County. Other drillers remain tight-lipped about their results.
The Utica shale is expected to produce natural gas, oil and so-called wet gases (propane, ethane and butane) that are very lucrative.
Other gas and oil companies including Anadarko E&P Co. LP and Devon Energy Production Co. are also involved in the Utica shale.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.