WHEELING - The Marcellus and Utica shale formations continue drawing attention from giant oil companies, as Chevron Corp. now controls about 4,400 acres in Ohio County.
Chevron joins Hess Corp. and Exxon Mobil as global oil companies investing in the Ohio Valley, as Hess has spent $1.34 billion during the past few weeks to acquire acreage in eastern Ohio. Exxon subsidiary, XTO Energy, is now leasing Belmont County acreage at $4,950 per acre with 19 percent on production royalties.
"Having companies like Chevron and Exxon here gives credence to the shale plays," said Tim Greene, owner of Land and Mineral Management of Appalachia. "You assume they have the financial support to stand behind their deals."
Chevron Corp. now controls about 4,400 acres of drilling territory in Ohio County.
According to records in the Ohio County Clerk's Office, California-based Chevron - a company that produced 2.76 million barrels of oil per day in 2010 - took over about 170 individual leases from AB Resources, the largest of which is a 713-acre parcel in the West Liberty area. Most of the acreage is in the northern and central portions of the county, primarily in the areas near West Liberty and Triadelphia.
Two of the leaseholders, who asked not to be named, confirmed that AB Resources notified them that the leases would be assigned to Chevron.
According to the clerk's office, all of the leases were signed with AB Resources, NPAR, or TriEnergy Holdings. NPAR is a leasing arm of AB Resources, as both companies are based in Brecksville, Ohio. TriEnergy is a leasing company based in Sewickley, Pa.
All of the agreements on file in the clerk's office feature the signatures of AB Chief Executive Officer Gordon Yonel and Chevron official George Kokolis.
Officials with AB could not be reached for comment. Chevron media advisor Russell Johnson said, "We have not announced any transaction related to AB Resources."
Along with Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and BP, Chevron is one of the world's largest petroleum companies. Shell took over some natural gas leases in Wetzel and Tyler counties last year. Shell is also one of the company's considering building an ethane cracker on property owned by Bayer Corp. in either Marshall or Kanawha counties.
The company's website notes that Chevron is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, with subsidiaries that conduct business worldwide. The company is involved in virtually every facet of the energy industry. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemical products; generates power and produces geothermal energy; provides energy efficiency solutions; and develops the energy resources of the future, including biofuels.
To this point, only Chesapeake Energy has actually drilled Marcellus Shale wells in Ohio or Brooke counties. Greene said with a company like Chevron coming in, there could be some real competition for drilling in the county.
"It is probably a good situation, overall," he said. "The problem is it will continue to be a challenge for the landowners to know who they are supposed to deal with, and who is actually on their property."
"We go from dealing with small, local operators to dealing with a little bit bigger company like AB. Now, you get a big company like Chevron, and it just chances the whole game, again," Greene added.