BARNESVILLE - Many individual mineral owners are joining the village's drilling agreement with Denver-based Antero Resources at a rate of $5,700 per acre and 20 percent of production royalties.
Antero held a series of lease signing meetings throughout Barnesville in February and early March, during which Mayor Ron Bischof said the driller received a very positive response from most residents. The agreement the private mineral owners signed is the same one village leaders inked with Antero last year.
"Antero was very pleased with the results," Bischof said of the lease signings that took place at schools and libraries in the village. "They are wrapping up the figures now. There is still some time for those who have not signed."
Belmont County records show Antero already has more than 800 separate lease agreements there with intention to drill. The driller also has active operations in Noble and Monroe counties, reaching a depth of 8,132 feet at one Monroe County well, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources records.
This year, Antero plans to operate an average of 12 drilling rigs in the Marcellus and two rigs in the Utica. These 14 rigs will be supplemented by four shallow rigs that will drill the vertical section of some horizontal wells down to the point at which the wells will turn horizontally, about 6,000 feet under the ground.
Of the company's $1.65 billion projected budget for 2013, Antero plans to use $1.15 billion specifically for drilling and fracking; $350 million for building gathering pipelines; and $150 million to acquire new leases. Antero's net production in West Virginia and Ohio is expected to increase by as much as 138 percent in 2013.
"They have told us, 'We did not spend $6 million not to drill,'" Bischof said, adding that Antero has identified several possible drilling sites but has not yet confirmed any definitive plans.
However, Bischof said residents need not fear that there will be drilling rigs popping up in their backyards.
This is because Antero will use the horizontal drilling method, which will involve drilling wells outside the village limits before turning the shafts to reach the gas under Barnesville.
For the village's drilling deal, Bischof said Barnesville has several possibilities for the $6 million worth of lease money it already has received, plus the future drilling royalties once extraction begins.
"We also have a lot of 100-year-old waterlines out here," Bischof said.
"You can look at expenditures as investments. The money is not getting much interest sitting in the bank with as low as interest rates are."
He also said a recreation center with an indoor swimming pool could serve the village well, noting that members of the Barnesville High School swim team now have to travel to Wheeling for practice.
"I really feel this is something that will be good for our village and our people," Bischof said of the entire Antero deal, though he was unsure of how long it will take Antero to begin drilling.