Lowellville schools mull leasing land for drilling

By jeanne starmack



The Lowellville school board is considering whether to lease mineral rights for 28 acres of school- district property to a company that wants to drill for natural gas.

Hilcorp Energy wants to drill for gas in the Utica Shale in Northeast Ohio.

It has offered the school district between $4,000 and $5,000 an acre as a signing bonus. It also will offer a percentage of royalties from any producing wells, said schools Superintendent Rocco Nero. He said he was unsure what that percentage is.

Nero said he was to meet Thursday with a Hilcorp representative and the school district’s legal counsel to review the lease offer.

He said he will make a recommendation to the school board at its next meeting, which is Sept. 19.

Nero said there have been “preliminary discussions” about how to use the money.

One suggestion, he said, was scholarships for students.

Hilcorp, based in Houston, Texas, also offered a lease to Struthers for $5,000 an acre and 20 percent royalties.

After consulting with the city’s law director, city administrators decided to advertise for bids for a lease, said Mayor Terry Stocker.

He also said that later, Hilcorp dropped its offer to $4,000 an acre and 18 percent royalties.

Campbell did sign a lease last month with Hilcorp at $5,000 an acre and will receive an $836,000 signing bonus. The city will get that money for next year’s budget, Mayor Bill VanSuch said. The city also will receive 20 percent royalties.

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