A company that owns the permit to drill a horizontal natural gas well in Hartford Township has sold most of its nearby Utica Shale Play mineral leases for $43 million.
Carrizo Oil & Gas, a Houston-based energy company, announced the sale of mineral rights in Trumbull, Mercer and Crawford counties Monday, but did not disclose the buyer's identity.
Immediately before the property sale, Carrizo had exercised a mineral lease purchase option to increase its ownership from a 10 percent to a 50 percent undivided interest in the properties.
According to Carrizo's announcement, the existing drilling pad and approved well drilling permits associated with the leases are included in the sale.
Carrizo obtained a permit to drill in Hartford in May 2011, but has not moved forward with the project, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The company is maintaining its 10 percent ownership in nearly 26,000 additional acres in Guernsey County, Ohio, in proximity to recent encouraging industry drilling results.
Carrizo said in a prepared statement the company's operations are principally focused in proven, producing oil and gas plays primarily in the nearby Marcellus Shale, along with the Eagle Ford and Barnett Shales in Texas, Niobrara Formation in Colorado, and the U.K. North Sea.
Terry P. Fleming, executive director of the Ohio Petroleum Council in Columbus, said Monday that the sale of mineral rights should not be considered a cause for concern for property owners in the area.
Fleming said at an investment of $8 million to $12 million per well, it would not be unusual for companies to sell their mineral rights to other companies with more financial backing.
Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education program pointed out the investment by oil companies is enormous in terms of signing bonuses, but still there is never a certainty that the potential will pan out.
''You are hoping, because you made this investment, but you just don't know," Reda said. ''It can take up to two years until they decide (where to drill), and it's high-level geo science.''