Located in the heart of one of the richest Marcellus oil and gas formations of the world, Middle Island Marcellus and Utica Mineral and Landowners Group are educating local residents while marketing land as potential sites for oil and gas companies.
The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation that lies more than a mile below the surface and is one of the largest producers of natural gas. It is considered the largest gas field in the United States, covering much of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Small areas of the formation can also be found in Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
An even deeper formation is the Utica Shale, which lies nearly two miles beneath the surface. Although the Utica Shale is proven to be a significant source of gas, companies are focusing more on the Marcellus Shale because it's much cheaper to drill.
In order to drill, these oil and gas companies need to lease surface and mineral rights from owners that could result in significant payouts.
The main agenda of the Middle Island Landowners Group is to combine acreage of landowners and present it to oil companies as a large parcel of land. Because the companies need a large amount of acreage in order to drill their units, larger parcels of land are more attractive. To date, the group has approximately 85 members and nearly 8,000 acres.
Another objective of the group is to develop workable leases that are acceptable to both the companies and the landowners. The group develops a single lease for the combined acreage and also develops individual leases for the landowners. At times, attorneys are present to advise owners of lease laws and also help to develop a lease that protects the lessor from issues that could result from shale development. The group stresses the importance of consulting an attorney, financial advisor, and tax advisor before signing a lease.
In 2011, the West Virginia Legislature passed The Horizontal Well Act. The bill established rules and regulations for developers of the Marcellus and Utica Shale deposits. It is important for an owner to become familiar with this bill in order to know what is legal and what is not.
These meetings are not only for surface and mineral owners, but also to anyone who wishes to learn more about the oil and gas industry. Many residents have concerns with environmental, safety, and health hazards that can result from fracking. Fracking is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. Owners and residents are concerned that the fracking process could pollute the air, contaminate their drinking water, and cause other damages to the environment. Lessors should always make sure these issues are addressed in the lease.
"It's a big opportunity for people right now in the county. We want to make sure that we make people aware of the do's and don'ts of of this boom, so to speak, because the days of leasing for $5 an acre are long past. Now, it's up into the thousands of dollars an acre," said Group Chairman Charles Mossor.
Because the group is relatively new, property has not yet been leased, but is in the marketing stage. The group is now in the process of creating packages for prospects. These packages contain a combined lease of property that is ready to be drilled and produced with acreage that is mapped and broken down by parcels. This way developers can get a good idea of the acreage and if it's large enough for a drilling unit. Mossor, along with other members of the group, are traveling to Pittsburgh in April to advertise the land at the North American Prospect Expo (NAPE).
To join the group, contact Charles Mossor at 304-758-2680 or firstname.lastname@example.org. An additional contact is Secretary Ardele Post at 304-758-4032. There are no fees or membership dues to join, but officers ask that new members sign a membership form. The group meets the first Saturday of each month at the Friendly Community Building at 10 a.m. The next meeting is set for April 6.