Analysis from a Penn State researcher shows natural gas drilling has generated more than $160 million in royalties for landowners in Bradford County alone.
And the number of royalty recipients will continue to grow, since there have been 1,856 gas wells drilled in the county, but only 512 of those wells are producing gas commercially, said agronomy educator Mark Madden of Penn State Extension.
In addition to the wells that have been built, many additional permits have been issued for wells that have yet to be constructed or are in the process of being developed, he said.
Land owners, including farmers, need to make sure they are not the victims of unscrupulous people who want to separate them from their money, and they may also need to plan financially for how to pass royalty revenue to their descendants, he said.
Of course, the royalties slow down when drilling slows down, and Bradford’s extraction rate have dipped as natural gas prices have plummeted. Bloomberg reports on how Chesapeake, the dominant driller in Bradford County, has begun reducing royalty payments:
As gas prices were heading toward a 10-year low in April, Chesapeake began reinterpreting in its favor thousands of contracts with landowners from Pennsylvania to Texas that own the 1 trillion cubic feet of gas the company produced last year, according to interviews and documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Chesapeake, arguing that other contract language allows for cost deductions, is fighting more than a dozen lawsuits.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m a bitter, disgruntled royalty owner, but this isn’t fair,” Thornton said. “Don’t do sneaky tricks. If it belongs to the royalty owners, it belongs to the royalty owners.”