“Most people don’t know what to do when they’re approached,” said Brian Pitzer, who owns land in South Shenango Township.

With natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale, a deep underground rock formation, and the even-deeper Utica Shale, oil and gas leasing agents are talking with landowners in western Crawford County about leasing properties for exploration.

Those owners now are trying to educate themselves with informational meetings.

Pitzer, who co-owns about 70 acres with his sister, said the family has been approached about leasing the acreage for natural gas exploration.

“I’ve talked with neighbors, and every landowner has been approached by more than one company,” he said. “This is a whole new ballgame for folks.”

Patricia Spencer, whose family owns property near Conneaut Lake, said her family has been contacted by four different groups.

“A couple have given us leases to look over — but we haven’t signed anything yet,” she said.

Pitzer thinks landowners like his family and the Spencers need to be cautious because of potential lease rates for landowners. He decided to start researching natural gas leasing rates after he first was approached in March.

Pitzer found that while some companies were offering to lease land at around $10 an acre, leases in some other areas of Pennsylvania where successful natural gas wells have been drilled have been given much higher dollar amounts.

Some landowners were earning $2,500 to $3,500 an acre plus a royalty payment on the value of the gas extracted, he said.

“If you have $2,500 times 100 acres, that’s $250,000,” he said. “That’s substantial money.”

Pitzer cautions that just because a landowner signs a lease, that doesn’t guarantee drilling will be done or the well will be successful.

Pitzer’s taken it upon himself to organize an informational meeting for landowners about natural gas leases this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hartstown Presbyterian Church on Route 322.

“It’s important to find out what the market is doing,” he said of why he’s organizing the meeting. “Too many may just be signing their property acreage for very little money.”

The meeting is open to any landowner — even those who have a natural gas well that is no longer productive, he said.

Spencer also is trying to coordinate a group of landowners as well about leases.

“We want to educate ourselves,” she said. “Our main goal in all of this is to be helpful to our community and to individual landowners.”

Spencer said she’s trying to put together another informational meeting as well in western Crawford County — tentatively set for August.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

You can go

A public meeting for landowners interested in learning about natural gas leases is scheduled Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hartstown Presbyterian Church, Route 322. The meeting will include a representative from Mid-Atlantic Land Services.

Landowners group members sought

Landowners interested in possibly joining a landowners group about natural gas leases may contact Patricia Spencer via e-mail at nwpalandownergroup@hotmail.com.

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