Haynesville Shale: Waiting to Sign
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Uploaded on Jun 2, 2008
Lessons from Fort Worth
As the potential boom of the Haynesville shale approaches, my reporter and I headed west to get first hand accounts from those affected by the Barnett Shale in FORT WORTH Texas. reporting from SHREVEPORT Louisiana KSLA - The ArkLaTex is on the brink of a new era of prosperity with increased drilling in the Haynesville Shale, bringing with it economic opportunity and a whole new set of potential problems. We need only look to North Texas to see what the future might hold for ArkLaTex landowners- thanks to the race for the rights to recover a precious mineral trapped some two miles beneath our feet. Just a few years ago, communities like those in Fort Worth City Councilman Salvador Espino's district were been right where the ArkLaTex stands now, facing a frenzy of offers from oil & gas companies to lease mineral rights. "I think you saw more landmen coming into the denser areas of the city where are a lot of people and when people started receiving offers to lease up their property it raised concerns," Espino says.
Those neighborhoods turned out to be some of the earliest to learn the mineral lease lessons the hard way, as drilling companies ran out of rural lands to prospect and began a push into urban areas. "I think some people signed on too early and received a lower lease bonus and royalty than others."
The Wedgewood Neighborhood in Southwest Fort Worth is one of the last holdouts in that final urban frontier. Currently locked in negotiations with two big oil & gas companies competing for the chance to drill in their community.
For resident Robin Keifer, it's not just about the money, "I'm worried about by son's health. We're going to be very close to the place. I'm worried about the pollution they're going to bring into my neighborhood what they're going to put in the ground after they take the gas out."
That's why she and many others in her neighborhood are "waiting to sign," pronouncing their commitment on yellow signs posted in their yards. They are a signal to one another of their commitment to hold out for the best deal possible in spite of pressure to sign. "We've basically been told, 'either sign or don't sign and if you don't sin, you won't get any money.'"
Tolli thompson knows there's strength in numbers, so she's organized her neighborhood, "We decided that if their game plan was to pick us off one person at a time, we could unite as a neighborhood to do a better deal." She went on to bring several surrounding neighborhoods together form a "supergroup" of sorts, the Wedgewood Square Neighborhood Association, representing some 6,000 homes and businesses, all for even more negotiating power.
"We've had offers starting at$10,000, up to $13,000...$15,000...$17,000 and $20,000 an acre," Thompson says. "We believe that something is worth what they're willing to pay for it. The gas companies have already said they're willing to pay $27,200 an acre for gas leases, we feel like we should fit that same standard."
A recent meeting to update negotiations attracted more than 2,000 of Thompson's neighbors. For now...they're not accepting the latest offers. "We're gonna sit tight and wait for them to come around."
This kind of organization is beginning to take shape on a grassroots level in the AkLaTex, as people begin to realizing they are being targeted by what they call 'leasehounds:' prospectors looking to buy up mineral leases for a quick flip and a big profit when they turn them over to the drilling companies. "We just want to be treated fairly," says Keatchie land and mineral owner Caroline Canady.
It's a steep learning curve for emerging neighborhood leaders like Canady, looking to head off the divide and conquer tactics she says they've already begun to encounter here. "Some of us were bullied. One man even thought he was gonna lose his house because there was oil and gas up under it."
Now, by looking at North Texas, people like Canady and her kKatchie neighbors might be able to make the most of the massive opportunity beneath their land, without making some of the mistakes of others who have gone before.
Tolli Thompson can attest to that. "Absolutely, it pays to go last. We were one of the last areas in our district that's going through this process...and we can learn from that and we can take that back to our neighborhood and do better for everyone."
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