An Ohio company has approached the City of Marietta, OH, to see if the municipality is interested in leasing 35 city-owned acres for oil and gas drilling targeting the Marcellus and Utica shales.

James Vuksic, CEO of MNW Energy LLC in Marietta, told NGI's Shale Daily that he met with city officials last week to discuss possibly adding the 35 acres to a block of properties it is assembling in Washington County for oil and gas drilling by Tulsa-based Protege Energy III.

"It was more of an informative meeting to see if they really had an interest in doing it," Vuksic said Monday. "I don't yet know if Protege would even accept their acreage. We were just trying to get an idea if the city had an interest. We haven't heard anything from them."

Marietta City Council Clerk Nancy Johnson said the next regularly-scheduled council meeting is Thursday. "I do believe the plan is that the administration will be requesting another meeting, probably sometime next week, to discuss the leasing," she said Monday.

Vuksic said MNW was working with about 200 area landowners to assemble a 6,000- to 7,000-acre block in Washington County for oil and gas drilling by Protege. He confirmed that Protege was offering $4,750 per acre for the property, plus a 17.5% royalty.

"We're still in the process of blocking all of that up," Vuksic said. "We have several thousand acres already committed. If we can't get it all blocked up, the folks interested in leasing it [now] won't want to lease it [in the future] because they could never drill it. That's what we're working to do now. We're simply supporting [Protege] here."

Tarah Angelidis, vice president for land at Protege, could not be reached for comment.