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