BARNESVILLE - As Antero Resources continues locking up acreage in the village, the natural gas driller will pay Barnesville Exempted Village School District more than $400,000.
"It sounds like this is going to be a busy place for the next few years," said school Superintendent Randy Lucas. "They gave us a ballpark guess that they would start drilling sometime over the next two years."
Denver-based Antero already has signed the village of Barnesville to a drilling contract, along with many individual landowners in the community. The deals call for Antero to pay $5,700 per acre to lease the land and 20 percent of production royalties once the gas starts pumping. These are also the terms of the school district's contract, Lucas said, noting the board of education voted unanimously to accept the deal.
For leasing a little more than 63 acres, the district will get $362,602 in its initial lease payment. Antero donated another $37,500 to the the district, increasing the total payment to $400,102.
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.
"Antero said they don't typically lease a whole town like this," Lucas said. "It is good, though, because it seems like everyone in town should benefit."
Lucas said most of the acreage leased to Antero is located under the Barnesville high and middle school campuses. However, he said residents and students need not fear that there will be drilling rigs popping up beside the schools. 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.
"We have a 'no drill' clause for our property," Lucas said.
Lucas said the district will place the money it receives into a capital projects fund, which could be used to fund repairs to buildings, new technology investments, boilers, etc.
"We have also met with some Antero officials to discuss ways their work may be able to provide some educational opportunities for our students," Lucas said.
This year, Antero plans to operate an average of 12 drilling rigs in the Marcellus Shale and two rigs in the Utica Shale. These 14 rigs will be supplemented by four shallow rigs that drill the vertical section of some horizontal wells down to the point where the wells turn horizontally, about 6,000 feet underground.
Antero's net production in West Virginia and Ohio is expected to increase by as much as 138 percent in 2013. In addition to its Belmont County operations, Antero is working in Noble and Monroe counties.