Muskingum conservancy drafts lease for shale drilling at Piedmont Lake

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NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is completing negotiations for an oil and gas lease for Utica Shale development for nearly 6,700 acres of its property at Piedmont Lake in Belmont and Harrison counties.

The lease agreement between the MWCD and Antero Resources of Colorado was presented to the district’s board of directors March 21, with an expected recommendation to approve the lease at its next meeting April 18.

Financial terms of the lease still are being negotiated.

Can read online

The lease document can be found on the MWCD website and public comments about it will be accepted by the MWCD prior to the April 18 meeting.

Comments can be sent through e-mail at piedmontcomments@mwcd.org, by fax at 330-364-4161 and through regular mail to Piedmont Comments, P.O. Box 349, New Philadelphia, OH 44663.

Property protections

The lease for MWCD property at Piedmont Lake contains numerous environmental protections that automatically can be extended by Antero to adjacent private property if their owners agree to them, said Theodore R. Lozier, MWCD’s chief of conservation.

Some of the protections negotiated into the lease include the following, Lozier said:

  • An opportunity for the MWCD to review and approve erosion control and construction plans;
  • Surface operation requirements including specifications on drilling operations and reclamation
  • Light and sound controls as well as seasonal restrictions on drilling.

The MWCD anticipates up to two well pads could be located on MWCD property as part of the lease, Lozier said, adding that any well pads would have to be approved by the MWCD and will be in areas of minimal development and recreational activity.

Other well pads will be located outside of MWCD property.

The MWCD previously signed leases for Utica Shale development of its property in 2011 with Gulfport Energy Co. at Clendening Lake in Harrison County, and for non-development leases in 2012 with Chesapeake Energy Co. at Leesville Lake in Carroll County and in 2013 at Seneca.

There are approximately 275 traditional (Clinton development) wells that the MWCD receives royalties from, Lozier said.

The MWCD board also has directed that the funds the conservancy district receives from signing bonuses from Utica Shale leases should be used to defray its debt, to improve public access at its properties and to address deferred maintenance and upgrades at its recreational facilities.

Board members also have directed the MWCD staff to review the annual assessment of property owners paid to the MWCD for consideration of any adjustments in the amount collected based on royalties received by the conservancy district.

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