Good Sign: Large Number of Abstractors Return to Wheeling, WV

If you’re in business, you’ve no doubt heard of “leading indicators” and “lagging indicators.” Example: When it comes to employment, a leading indicator would be an increase in work at temporary agencies (a rapid ramp-up in new employees), which means the economy is about to heat up and do better. A lagging indicator would be the official unemployment numbers–higher unemployment means an economy doing worse, lower unemployment means an economy doing better. When it comes to drilling activity, MDN has long used two metrics as leading indicators–that drilling activity is about to pick up. One is new permits issued. Drillers don’t spend big bucks to apply for permits they don’t intend to use–and use soon. However, there’s another, even earlier leading indicator, a predictor that more drilling is on the way in the next 6-12 months. That indicator is packed record halls at the local county clerk’s office. Before lease deals are signed, sealed and delivered, drillers must first ensure there is a clear title–that the person who says he/she owns the mineral rights for a given property, actually does. That’s where abstractors come in. Abstractors research deed records at the county clerk’s office. In the past we’ve noted there are some counties where there is a waiting line to get in to access records (see Tyler WV Courthouse Overrun with Abstractors – Drilling Signal?). When the price of natural gas crashed and drilling slowed, the large number of abstractors disappeared. Guess what? They baaaaack! At least in Wheeling, WV…

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