Gas wells could be popping up on Crawford County property — if commissioners determine it could help the county financially.
But apparently that question isn’t easy to answer.
County Treasurer Frederic Wagner asked commissioners at Tuesday’s work session if he “could take on a project.” He said a lot of people have been talking to him about the possibility of drilling gas wells on county property and wondered if commissioners would allow him to explore it.
He cited the county’s 300 acres of land on the former county farm near Saegertown, and on another 400 acres on county forest land in Steuben Township, as feasible properties. Citing the number of gas wells being drilled around the county, Wagner said it would be a good idea to pursue.
If the county chooses to proceed, “It would have to go out for bid,” according to Commis-sioner Morris Waid, who said he also has been studying the option. He said if a bid were sought and a contract awarded, the county then would go into a negotiation process based on cubic feet of oil or natural gas produced.
If gas were found on county farm property, it conceivably could be used to heat the county care center, the county jail and the Quality Living Center, an assisted-living home, officials pointed out.
Waid said part of the county farm land now is enrolled in the land bank program with the U.S. Department of Agricul-ture, a federal program for reserving land for non-farming use, and that could present complications to any drilling plans.
“We still have 400 acres in Steuben,” replied Wagner. Any revenues from drilling on that property could be used for general funds, he said.
Wagner suggested the county pursue whether it’s feasible, saying it may cost $300,000 to drill and may not cover those costs. But, he added, “at least we will have looked at it.”
Waid said when the late Oakley Lamb was a county commissioner in the 1970s, Lamb insisted it was cost prohibitive to drill.
“I think it’s a great idea, Mr. Wagner,” said Commissioner Sherman Allen.
“There are a lot of gas wells being drilled (on private land throughout the county),” said Wagner, adding, “it must be profitable for some (property owners).”
“Some (wells now) are capped,” said Waid, and produce no revenue.
Adjacent counties all have gas wells on county-owned property, according to Don Galmish, a cementer with Universal Well Services, a local company servicing gas wells.
He said that includes Mercer and Venango counties.
However, Diona Brick, finance administrator of Venango County, said her county doesn’t have gas wells on its property, but there is one in the county’s park. The park is operated by the Venango County Park and Natural Resources Authority, and she had no record of how much gas was produced or how much revenue generated.
Tim Hofius, chief clerk of Mercer County, said he believes the county does have gas wells on some of its property. But, he said, he is new to the position and didn’t have information about where the wells are or how much gas has been produced.
Jane Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com.