How Long Will Drilling in the Marcellus Shale Last?

Nothing lasts forever, as the old cliché goes, and neither will drilling. While we are at the very beginning of what will be a life-changing event for many landowners, a natural question is, How long will it last? How long before the natural gas locked away in the Marcellus is largely mined from the ground?

One person to address that question is Marty Muggleton, spokesman for The Larson Design Group and TerrAqua Resource Management, a wastewater processor newly permitted to handle flowback from Marcellus drilling operators. At a recent meeting of the Tioga County (PA) Development Corporation Board of Directors, he said:

Drilling will last about 20 years…and locals should try to use the resulting income wisely. There will be new opportunities for jobs, culture, education, health care and more. Communities just need to plan so those benefits remain when the drillers leave.*

So there you have it. Once drilling begins, plan to see drilling operators for about 20 years.

*The Wellsboro Gazette (Mar 17) – Natural gas dominates TCDC agenda

UPDATE: At the Natural Gas Development Summit held in Binghamton, NY on March 18, one of the speakers also addressed this issue. Larry Michael, Executive Director for Workforce Economic Development at the PA College of Technology, has studied jobs and drilling in the Marcellus extensively. He said while a single well may produce for 15-20 years, the activity of drilling in the various shales in our region will go on for 80-100 years total. It will span several generations, before all shale gas is mined.

Landowner Pipeline Group Forms in Northeast PA

Some Susquehanna and Wyoming County, PA landowners are forming a group to force drilling and pipeline companies to “behave responsibly” with installation and operation of new pipelines as more and more Marcellus Shale gas wells are drilled and go online in Northeast PA. The group wants to arm landowners with information about their rights when negotiating “right-of-way” agreements for pipelines.

Excerpts from an article in today’s WC Press Examiner:

The Lemon Township Pipeline Group has been meeting for months and its members are looking at a range of easement and right-of-way agreements that leaseholders need to consider as more and more drilling companies come into the area looking to get the gas from the Marcellus shale to market.

Such issues as price, nature, location, type, pipeline depth below surface, installation, road repair, pressure, timetable, abandonment, rights, restrictions and environmental responsibilities are among the many issues that individuals need to consider.*

An email address is given for those interested in joining or finding out more: [email protected].

*Wyoming County Press Examiner (Mar 17) – Landowners’ pipeline group forms

A Novel Approach to Signing New Landowners by Chesapeake Energy in Bradford County, PA

Forget the landmen, Chesapeake Energy wants to talk directly to landowners and is throwing a “signing party” hoping to convince landowners in Bradford County to show up and sign up at the Wysox Fire Hall on March 20th.

Chesapeake sent letters to unsigned landowners in Towanda, North Towanda, Wysox, Standing Stone, Monroeton, Asylum, Wyalusing and Herrick, inviting them to the event.

Chesapeake tells landowners in the letter:

“Our records indicate that you own certain oil and gas rights that Chesapeake is interested in leasing,” the copy of the letter states. “We will have personnel on hand to discuss with you an offer to lease [the oil and gas rights on] your property that will potentially allow you to share in the royalty pool to be established for wells to be drilled in your area.”*

The letter offers unsigned landowners a 10-year lease for $5,000 per acre and 20% royalties. By comparison, just last September Chesapeake signed a deal with the Wyoming County Landowners group for $5,750 per acre and 20% royalties. Chesapeake has made an offer to Wysox Township to lease town land for the same terms ($5,750 per acre, 20% royalties). However, in January 2010, Northern Tier Career Center in North Towanda approved a five-year lease with Chesapeake for $6,500 per acre and 20% royalties on the school’s 73 acres.

MDN has not seen a copy of the full letter, but a commenter on The Daily Review website states the Chesapeake letter was sent to landowners with less than 3 acres of land. Landowners with small parcels do not have as much negotiating clout as larger landowners or groups. Even so, MDN cautions landowners about just showing up and signing up. While it may be a good deal, the devil is in the details of a contract. There is no substitute for having a contract reviewed by legal counsel before signing. Landowner groups (who retain legal counsel) are often the best way to ensure your interests as a landowner are protected. If you cannot find a landowner group to join, make sure you retain a good lawyer with experience in mineral rights leases.

Go enjoy the free coffee and donuts, but be careful about signing anything on the spot.

*Towanda The Daily Review (Mar 17) – Chesapeake to hold lease-signing event for Towanda-area landholders