Leasing Info Meeting Draws Landowners

By
Bethany Venable
Brooke Selis

Dateline
Updated Fri, May 18, 2012 2:12 pm

A meeting hosted by an Athens attorney and an energy company Thursday night at the Market on State drew a crowd of more than 100 landowners interested in leasing their land for drilling.

Cunningham Energy is seeking mineral rights in Athens, Vinton, Meigs, Perry, Morgan, and Washington counties.
 
Lawyer John Lavelle represents several landowners who have already signed contracts with Cunningham.
 
He says the company wants to do exploratory drilling to determine just what is beneath the earth's surface.
 
"What it's all about, ultimately, is drilling and production and what we have is a viable West Virginia company that's actively engaged in oil and gas drilling business that's willing to come do these vertical utica wells within 18 months," said Lavelle.
 
Lavelle says Cunningham wants to get the drilling on five vertical wells started in 18 months, which means the window is closing for landowners who have not yet signed a contract. "They think they can get it partnered up fairly quickly, but if it drags on forever to see what the pool is, they'll never be able to pay it by July 20. They're going to have a draw a line in the sand very soon," said Lavelle. 
 
But even with a July 20 deadline looming, some landowners, like Stan Molnar, aren't rushing to sign on the dotted line.
 
"Well, I had been signed up to do a lease but now I'm trying to look at all the leases available and there seems to be just too many questions. There's just too many unknowns with all the different leases," said Molnar. "I'm just trying to sort out and compare apples to apples."
 
The regional non-profit organization Rural Action has been encouraging landowners to "Look Before They Lease."
 
The group offers a toolkit with information for people before signing a lease.  Molnar says he worries people, swayed by the potential payout, are signing leases without completely understanding the consequences.
 
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