Pa. still fighting over royalty money from forest drilling

  • Marie Cusick

A well pad in the Loyalsock State Forest.

Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY / WHYY

A well pad in the Loyalsock State Forest.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania continues to haggle with natural gas companies over royalty money it believes it’s owed from drilling on state land.
There are 386,000 acres of publicly-owned forest land leased to gas companies, and like private landowners, the state has had problems getting paid properly.
In September StateImpact Pennsylvania reported the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), which manages state forests, recovered $1.3 million in royalty money over the past year, after ramping up auditing efforts and hiring a new accountant to oversee the issue.
In the past three months, the department has recovered another $150,000.
“As the DCNR identifies discrepancies in the amounts received, it works toward a resolution,” department spokesman Terry Brady writes in an email. “Pending audits and resolutions may result in the collection of additional corrected royalty amounts. ”
The department has repeatedly declined to say how much money it believes it’s still owed.
A 2014 report by StateImpact Pennsylvania shows DCNR has spent years disputing payments made by some drillers. Internal emails show the agency complaining about inaccurate or murky reporting on everything from how much gas is produced at wells, to its selling price.

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