Barnesville Invites Locals to Join Deal

BARNESVILLE – Mayor Ron Bischof said building a recreation center with an indoor swimming pool is one possible spending plan for the $6 million in lease money coming to the village from Denver-based Antero Resources.

Now, Bischof and Antero want everyone who owns Utica or Marcellus shale mineral rights inside the village limits to consider signing the same $5,700 per acre lease – with 20 percent of production royalties – that Barnesville officials signed last year.

“We have met met with representatives of Antero Resources and find them to be very straightforward people to work with and feel that this lease will give individual property owners within the village of Barnesville the opportunity to enjoy some of the same economic benefits that the village received,” Bischof said.

Antero recently mailed an informational packet to each of the roughly 1,700 mineral owners within the village. Belmont County records show the company already has about 800 separate lease agreements there with the 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.

“It is a great opportunity,” said Village Administrator Roger Deal. “Even if you are only going to get a little bit of money, every little bit helps these days.”

In Ohio and West Virginia combined, Antero plans to spend $1.65 billion for natural gas production this year.

“There will be no drilling on any surface property within the village. They (Antero) will drill outside the village and then turn to go under the ground to take our gas,” Bischof said regarding the horizontal drilling method. He also said the company has identified some potential well pad sites, but it has not yet confirmed definitive plans. “They have told us, ‘We did not spend $6 million not to drill.'”

For anyone interested in signing a lease with Antero, the following times and dates are established for landowners to bring their information to the company for potential lease agreements: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Barnesville Middle School; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 16 at the middle school; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Barnesville Library Annex; 9. a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 23 at the middle school; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the library annex; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 2 at the library annex.

Those looking to lease should bring a form of identification, a copy of their property deed and a copy of the most recent tax parcel card. Anyone who is married must attend the lease signing with his or her spouse.

For the village’s drilling deal, Bischof said Barnesville already has received about $4.9 million worth of the $6 million in lease money it is slated to gain from Antero. He said there are several possibilities for the money, including potentially replacing some 100-year-old waterlines or possibly building a recreation center with an indoor swimming pool.

“Right now it is in the bank, waiting for Village Council to decide what to do with it,” Bischof said of the $4.9 million. He emphasized that the money eventually could seem like a small amount if Antero produces gas from the Barnesville land.

He said a recreation center could serve the village well, noting that members of the Barnesville High School swim team now have to travel to Wheeling for practice.

“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.”