By Bob Weaver

Oil and gas companies looking for places to drill in the lucrative Trenton-Black River formation in central West Virginia are scouring several counties looking to purchase mineral rights.

It is the potential of deep well drilling. In some counties they are putting up billboards. Others are going door to door.

Deep well drilling companies, unlike shallow wells, must get a signed agreement from surface owners to drill. Dominion has been paying $5 to $15 an acre per year for mineral rights not in production. After production, the fee changes to 12.5 per cent of the well's royalties.

Surface (land owners) could tap into royalties or they could settle for a cash amount. Others may agree on land reclamation, which is required by law. Again, some surface owners have asked for improvements. A deep well location site may cover three to five acres.

The Trenton-Black River formation is in a 460-million year old seabed, where pockets of gas have been trapped deep in the earth. Roane Counties first deep well in 1999 produced about 50 million cubic feet of gas a day, compared to 500,000 a day for a good shallow well. Since gas prices are up, the money is phenomenal.

Landowners should know their rights (See earlier Hur Herald stories).

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