Appalachian Basin

New York Times Highlights Ohio Valley Landowners Benefitting from Shale

Yesterday, the New York Times reported on the incredible impact shale development is having across the Ohio Valley, especially amongst the hundreds of families in rural Noble County who’ve signed leases for their mineral rights.  It’s a story we have reported on before on these pages, however with this latest coverage it seems the cat is out of the bag.

The Times piece tells a familiar story in eastern Ohio these days. It highlights the many families and communities that are directly benefiting from Utica Shale development. For many of these families, a chance for increased financial stability is not something that has been easily achieved in recent years.

For these families the development of the Utica Shale has been a blessing. In an area facing economic stagnation for decades, the positive and immediate impact these new sources of revenue are having is incomprehensible. For many, it doesn’t even seem real.  This is a trend that was noticeable in the article and is clearly articulated in the quote below.

It doesn’t seem real. We haven’t planned much about what to do. The most important thing is I want to make sure my grandkids do well.  – Sharon Stottsberry (Mineral Leases Give Boost to Rural Ohio,6/4/12)

As noted in the article, eastern Ohio is a region with a median household income of less than $33,000. For the families who have leased their land for shale development, this additional income (not including the royalty payments from production) is a life-changing experience.

One couple highlighted in the article is Tom and Cheryl Tonnous. Two years ago, Tom Tonnous lost his job at a car parts manufacturer when the company closed it’s doors – a story all to familiar in this part of Ohio. His wife Cheryl is a part time postal worker. Thanks to the Utica Shale, the couple was able to lease their land for shale development. Shortly after doing so, the couple deposited a check for over $238,000.

Success stories like those of the Tonnous’s are prevalent in Noble County. In fact, they are becoming more frequent throughout eastern Ohio. The best part, according to the experts this is just the beginning.

The new oil and gas play in this region is big, and will get bigger, We’re only scratching the surface right now. – Dr.  Robert W. Chase, Chairman, department of petroleum engineering and geology at Marietta College  (Mineral Leases Give Boost to Rural Ohio, 6/4/12)

This concept – the fact we are at the early stages of Utica Shale development – is hard to grasp, particularly with the large investments and job creation we have already seen. In their review, the New York Times reports that $4 billion dollars has been spent on leasing, and more the $3 billion has been invested in the production and transport sectors thus far.

Combined with the flurry of activity in the long dormant manufacturing sector– including the return of the Ohio steel industry –  it becomes very clear that our state’s economic recovery has been, and will continue to be, tied directly to development of the Utica Shale.  As governor John Kasich pointed out earlier this year, the Utica has had a major hand in reducing Ohio’s unemployment rate from a 10.6 percent peak in December 2009 to the 7.5 percent rate Ohio has today.

However, this is likely just the beginning and there is much room for optimism as early returns from Utica Shale production have been promising.

In February, Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma City reported that two of its new wells upriver from here produced 700 barrels of oil and three million cubic feet of natural gas a day. In April, Anadarko Petroleum of Houston reported that one of its new wells in Noble County produced almost 500 barrels of oil and 600,000 cubic feet of gas a day. (Mineral Leases Give Boost to Rural Ohio, 6/4/12)

Thanks to Utica Shale development Ohio is working to return to the days of prosperity and promise. As the New York Times reports, it’s already changing people’s lives for the better.

We won’t have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore. It will mean having two vehicles that run. It will mean paying off debt and giving our parents back what they gave us, not that they ask for it. – Joel Davis (Mineral Leases Give Boost to Rural Ohio, 6/4/12)

Day-by-day, more and more families across Ohio are beginning to share in the benefits that continued Utica Shale development is bringing to Ohio.  As we safely and successfully develop this resource these benefits will continue to grow.  After all, a rising tide does lift all boats.  However, to sustain this momentum it is incumbent on each of us to arm ourselves with the facts to ward off accusations made by those wishing to see the Utica Shale, and Ohio’s economic ascendancy, take a back seat to their special interests.

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