Land group continues negotiations

ELIZABETH – A local landowners group formed to market their land for natural gas development in the Marcellus and Utica Shale is continuing its negotiations with companies.

The Wirt County Oil and Gas Group was going to vote on an agreement with an company it had been negotiating with, but the firm did not accept the deal, said group Chairman James Lydon.

The unidentified company went in another direction and securing land in Pennsylvania, Lydon said.

“We are now talking with other companies,” he said.

The group is not upset, he said. The company treated the group with great respect, Lydon said.

“They were nice to work with,” he said.

The door remains for the company to return and resume negotiations, Lydon said.

The oil and gas group was formed in February 2012 and has joined landowners, mineral rights holders and gas producers working on a lease option for those interested in having their property used in natural gas production.

Its acreage is in Wood, Ritchie, Calhoun, Roane, Jackson and Wirt counties.

The group has 658 individual members, including private citizens and 11 companies. The group has more than 241,000 acres it is marketing with 92,000 of those being net acres.

The goal of the group is to develop a lease that is fair to mineral rights owners, surface owners and the producer. It has a proposed lease that was reviewed and approved by the membership.

A company is being sought that will respect them, the land and the area, Lydon said. The group wants to make certain the integrity of the county and residents is maintained, he said.

Members have been attending gas meetings and there has been discussions among gas companies of a rich source of natural gas from the Utica Shale believed to stretch from Washington County through Wood, Wirt and into Roane counties.

“We are really excited,” Lydon said. “We are in a great position for this development to come our way.”