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West Virginia Takes Bids to Lease State-Owned Land

Antero Resources Corp. and Noble Energy Inc. have submitted bids to develop a wildlife conservation area in Tyler County, WV, owned by the West Virginia Department of Commerce's Division of Natural Resources.

The bids come nearly a month after the state commerce department selected winning bids for six miles of mineral rights under the Ohio River (see Shale DailyOct. 30Oct. 3). Bidding on the wildlife area is now closed, but If approved, Antero's offer would earn the state a $6.2 million signing bonus. Josh Jarrell, general counsel for the state commerce department, said the company’s bid was $12,019/acre.

"We received bids for a per-acre bonus for acreage we believe we own. There are no firm numbers yet," he said. "Some of the companies that sent bids have come up with different numbers and that's something we're going to have to work through."

Noble submitted a bid for $6,900/acre. Jarrell said the state owns about 518 acres at the Conaway Run Wildlife Management Area, which is used for recreational activities such as hunting and fishing. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin approved the bidding process for the conservation area in September.

The state selected Gastar Exploration Inc., Statoil ASA and Magnum Hunter Resources Inc. as the winning bidders of six miles under the Ohio River. Those leases are currently being negotiated in the hopes they can be finalized by the end of the year, Jarrell said. Those bids were the first accepted by the state for unconventional development. Eleven additional miles under the river will likely be available to lease soon.

Under its terms for the DNR-owned land, the state wants a minimum 20% royalty on production and a three-year lease term.

"The DNR is going to continue to do this as it receives interest from the private sector," Jarrell said. "I'm not sure what other state agencies have planned; I can't speak for them, but any property nominated that DNR owns, we will make a determination on competitive bids."

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