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W.Va. mineral rights owners strike $100M deal

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va.– Mineral owners in Marshall and Ohio counties will receive more than $100 million worth of economic stimulus from signing Marcellus Shale lease agreements with driller Tug Hill Operating, local lawyers said Friday.

Eventual production royalty payments could be worth much more during the course of several years, as these amounts would be in addition to the upfront lease money that Fort Worth, Texas-based Tug Hill would pay the landowners.

“Neighbors helping neighbors is what this land group is all about, and we proved that there really is strength in numbers,” lawyer Jonathan Turak said. “This agreement represents the culmination of many months of hard work on our team’s part to deliver the best agreement possible for our members.”

A secretary in the Tug Hill corporate office said the company would have no comment on the deal Friday. The privately owned firm’s website states that it has “participated” in more than 600 horizontal Marcellus Shale wells since 2007.

Known as the “Marshall and Ohio County Landgroup,” the mineral owners have collectively worked to achieve the best possible lease agreement while negotiating with multiple companies. Officials said mineral owners can still join the group, which is mostly in Ohio and Marshall counties, though some of the acreage reaches into Pennsylvania.

“Our goal was to provide an opportunity for landowners to join together to maximize our bargaining leverage. Our members saw the value in being a part of the land group, and remained united throughout the process,” Turak said. “The end result is unprecedented, with an agreement that provides more compensation, better protection, and a lease that favors all of our mineral owners.”

However, officials said a “confidentiality agreement” prohibits them from answering how much Tug Hill will pay per acre, the percentage rate for royalty payments, how many landowners are in the group or how much total acreage the group holds.

Amounts paid per acre for leasing across the Ohio Valley reach at least $8,000 per acre, with 20 percent of production royalties, but as low as $5 per acre with only 12.5 percent of royalties.

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