Doddridge School System agrees to shale lease

WEST UNION – The Doddridge County School System has agreed to lease property to a natural gas drilling company.

Doddridge County Schools Superintendent Rick Coffman said school board members recently agreed to a lease on 1.7 acres of school system property with Antero Resources. Under the agreement, Antero has a five-year lease of 1.7 acres of property on edge of West Union on the former West Union grade school and current board of education offices.

“It would be stupid for us to not allow them to do it,” Coffman said.

Coffman said the school system will make a little money on the lease and could see a small percentage of the royalties if the drilling pays out.

“We have 100 percent of the mineral rights,” he said. “If they do drill it and hit something decent, as far as natural gas is concerned, we will get a small percentage because of the royalties.”

Coffman said the derrick will be three-quarters of a mile away and there is no concern.

“You are not going to have a derrick in the middle of town,” he said. “It’s way far off. No one will even know it is occurring on a hill three or four miles away. No frack trucks or slag ponds. No environmental concerns or safety issues. They are not going to be creating a cavern under us.”

“It just so happens that where they are wanting to do this could benefit us,” Coffman said. “It is still very early. There is way more uncertainty as to how it might benefit us.”

He downplayed any idea the school system would see a huge profits as a result of the agreement.

“Nothing huge. Just a small monthly check we can use for some things,” he said. “When you have a school system every little bit helps.”

Coffman said the shale boom is hitting all around the area. He said Doddridge’s school system may be the first in the area to lease property, but he doubts it will be the last.

“Every county is going to have small tracts of land where the schools were consolidated and they have mineral rights,” he said.