BARNESVILLE — The Barnesville area is reaping the benefits of oil and gas exploration. The financial gains go beyond money received from the lease of land and accompanying royalties.
The Village of Barnesville signed a lease with Antero Resources in September for 1,047 acres of village-owned property outside of the village limits at a rate of $5,700 an acre plus 20 percent royalties, and earlier this month signed a lease for an additional 85.6805 acre of village-owned land within village limits. The first lease will earn the village a total of $6 million and the second an additional $488,378.85. Village Administrator Roger Deal said lease money from the park, cemeteries and water plants will be going to those departments. “This will greatly help funding for the park and cemetery improvements and maintenance,” Deal said.
Deal said the village has received approximately $5 million to date with a million and a half plus still due the village on the initial bonus, with millions in royalties expected over the next 10 to 20 years.
The Belmont County Regional Airport Authority is actively pursuing a lease of the 63 acres of airport property. Deal said this could gain the airport $360,000 plus bonus and future royalties. The funds, which will be controlled by the BCRAA, could be used to improve the fuel delivery system ,and repair or possibly replace the dilapidated hangars.
Lease money from the Watt Center property will go to land and buildings.
Barnesville Hospital also signed a lease for their property. Hospital CEO David Phillips said the hospital board has not yet met to determine how that money might be used.
Turner, as leasing agent for Antero, recently held the last of a series of lease signing events for village property owners at the Barnesville Middle School and Barnesville Library Annex. They offered the same lease and royalty rates the village received, with the exception that they are for surface rights only.
Barnesville Mayor Ron Bischof said the signing process was streamlined by Turner and usually took approximately 15 minutes. He said the company has also been good about helping the home bound and sending paperwork out to those own property in the village but do not live here.
Antero has been actively leasing in Belmont, Guernsey, Monroe, and Noble Counties over the past 15 months. They have drilled five wells in the area and has leased over 80,000 acres. Antero currently has two rigs working in southern Ohio.
Bischof said he thinks area businesses, including restaurants are beginning to feel the economic impact of the lease activity and the oil and gas workers.
“Things are beginning to change in the village,” Bischof said.
Leasing of mineral rights is just one of the areas from which the village is benefiting financially.
Antero plans to drill two 25-foot well pads, one above Slope Creek and one west of town on State Route 147.
Gulfport laid a water line and took water from Slope Creek to a well in Somerset Township. The village received approximately $100,000 in water sales for this event.
“Many of the gas and oil exploration companies would now rather pipe the water than haul it, as it reduces the trucking costs and spares the need for road repairs,” Deal said. “Keep in mind that the average frack job would require 7,000 truck loads of water over a seven day period. Imagine adding 1,000 trucks per day with all that weight on any road surface. They make a round trip, so that would be 2,000 passes per day. Pumping the water would also be much faster than waiting for all these trucks.”
The village is considering installing a debit-card operated water dispenser at the water lines to the Eastern Ohio Industrial Park on State Route 800. Pre-paid cards could also be sold to water customers.
Deal said the industrial park waterline will hold approximately 70,000 plus gallons of water.
“Selling treated water from that line will help to keep the water fresh in the line so, we would like to set up a bulk water fill station to service not only the gas and oil industry but also other customers,” he said.
Deal said the Village of Fairview hauls water from Barnesville’s current station in town on almost a daily basis. Fairview and numerous other customers who come in from the north to buy bulk water from the village could pull from this station.
On the other side of village limits, two businesses catering to the industry, Force Incorporated and Chem Rock Technologies, LLC, have set up shop in the newly created JEDD II on SR 147, bringing with them employees and local business. Owners and employees of the companies, as well as local officials, have been appointed to an advisory board for the JEDD II which recently began meeting.
Companies have also donated and supported community projects in the area.
Turner Oil and Gas Properties also recently donated $1,000 to the Barnesville Area Reforestation Kommittee for their 10th annual tree planting. The planting is set for Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m. at Barnesville Memorial Park. This year, rather than plant saplings, BARK is planting approximately 15 large trees throughout the park to replace those lost to storms and disease.
Bischof said Boone Ellis of Turner came through with the donation within minutes of being contacted.
“It was amazing and quite generous,” Bischof said of the donation.
Bischof said Turner has been impressed with how they have been received in the village. At the suggestion of Bischof, students in the culinary arts program at Barnesville High School provided food for Turner employees during their lease signing events in the village. Turner reportedly made a donation to the program for their annual school trip.