The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned 17 parcels of land in Ohio's Wayne National Forest last week to four oil and gas companies that paid about $1.7 million.
BLM records show 22 companies and individuals bid on the land in Ohio and a smaller share in Mississippi and Arkansas. After years of delays, BLM said in October it would proceed with a competitive oil and gas lease sale in the state's only national forest.
Ohio pure-play Eclipse Resources Corp. took most of the acreage, which is located in the Utica Shale hotbed of Monroe County. The company will pay more than $927,500 for about 426 acres. Gulfport Energy Corp. will pay more than $232,000 for 100 acres. West Virginia-based Flat Rock Development LLC, which develops oil and gas properties in Southeast Ohio, will pay more than $551,000 for about 152 acres, and Texas-based Petrogas Co. took four acres for $2,705.
The auction was a controversial one. A petition signed by more than 92,000 people, as well as other administrative protests from environmental groups, to stop it were unsuccessful. Eclipse said this week that it would sell nearly 10,000 undeveloped acres in Monroe and Noble counties that didn't fit into its development program that calls for longer laterals. Gulfport, which has been heavily focused on the Utica in recent years. has made a series of transactions this month to bolt-on acreage in the play and expand into the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province.
The BLM originally offered 1,600 acres across 33 parcels in the forest, but some of the land was withdrawn to check records or because it was already leased.