- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia is expected to receive nearly $6 million from leasing two state-owned tracts under the Ohio River to energy companies for oil and gas drilling.

The Department of Commerce is negotiating a lease with Noble Energy for a 1,400-acre tract. Noble has agreed to pay $3,500 per acre to lease the land, Department of Commerce spokeswoman Chelsea Ruby told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register (http://bit.ly/152G85x ).

Noble spokeswoman Stacey Brodak told the newspaper that she could not comment on the deal because it has not been finalized.

Under another deal, Gastar Exploration will pay $812,000 to lease a 232-acre tract.

The total does not include royalties from oil and gas production.

Both tracts are under the river in Marshall County.

Leasing state-owned and for the drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, is a new venture for West Virginia, and state officials think it could produce plenty of money during uncertain budget times.

Antero Resources recently bid $6.2 million to drill on 518 acres at the Conaway Run Wildlife Management Area in Tyler County.

The Department of Commerce’s website shows bids are being sought for fracking leases on other state-owned lands, including nearly 131 acres under Fish Creek in Marshall County, 23.67 acres in the Greenbrier District of Doddridge County; and an unspecified number of acres in the Jug Wildlife Management Area in Tyler County.

Horizontal drilling under rivers is generating revenues in other states. In March 2014 and in 2010, Chesapeake Appalachia paid Pennsylvania $10.5 million for five-year leases to drill beneath two sections of the Susquehanna River, not counting royalties.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, http://www.theintelligencer.net

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