Arthur and Sharon Stottsberry, who are retired from inspector and clerk jobs with the State Department of Transportation, received $280,000 for the right to lease oil and gas reserves beneath their 70-acre farm. “It doesn’t seem real,” said Mrs. Stottsberry, 68. “We haven’t planned much about what to do. The most important thing is I want to make sure my grandkids do well.”
Tom and Cheryl Tonnous, who own almost 60 acres, deposited their $238,413.20 check for oil and gas rights at the credit union a day after it arrived. Mr. Tonnous, 58, spent most of his working life at a car parts manufacturer here that closed almost two years ago. Mrs. Tonnous, 59, is a part-time postal worker. …
More is probably on the way, potentially much more. Some 6,000 feet beneath Noble County and much of east and southeast Ohio lies the Utica Shale, a thick layer of oil- and gas-bearing rock that has attracted billions of dollars in energy industry investment in leases and infrastructure. Representatives of the nation’s largest energy companies — Chesapeake Energy, Exxon Mobil and BP, to name a few — crowd the recorder’s office at the local courthouse here and in a dozen other counties, scouring property records to identify landowners willing to lease their oil and gas rights.
The scale of the spending in the state — $4 billion in leasing so far, and more than $3 billion in the production and transport sectors — has generated the most significant surge in Ohio’s oil and gas development in decades, business executives and state energy officials say. In February, Chesapeake Energy of Oklahoma City reported that two of its new wells upriver from here produced 700 barrels of oil and three million cubic feet of natural gas a day. In April, Anadarko Petroleum of Houston reported that one of its new wells in Noble County produced almost 500 barrels of oil and 600,000 cubic feet of gas a day.
“The new oil and gas play in this region is big, and will get bigger,” said Robert W. Chase, chairman of the department of petroleum engineering and geology at Marietta College. “We’re only scratching the surface right now.”