County Inks Drilling Lease That Will Bring in $3M

Belmont County taxpayers will see a $3 million windfall as county commissioners this week agreed to enter into an oil and gas lease with Rice Drilling.

The agreement calls for Rice to pay the county $7,500 per acre for the mineral rights to 406 acres, with 20 percent royalties.

Commissioners Matt Coffland and Ginny Favede voted in favor of the contract while Commissioner Chuck Probst, who was not present at the meeting, objected to making a decision. He later said he believed more time was necessary to thoroughly research the proposal.

The county received a draft lease about two months ago, and officials have been working with Rice and Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter on the proposal.

Coffland said the deal from Rice Drilling was the best lease on the table.

The 406 acres is located throughout Belmont County. Much of the currently owned county property is located in the St. Clairsville-Barnesville area. In the Tacoma Park area on Ohio 147 east of Barnesville and behind the former Bob’s Chevrolet Building, are about 167 acres; in the Ohio 331 area and behind the prison are approximately 67 acres, in the Hammond Road area are approximately 103 acres and in the Oak View area, 46 acres.

In other matters, commissioners discussed the planned construction of a new senior center in Flushing.