Range Resources Corp. has drilled the first unconventional natural gas well in Crawford County, PA, and is reportedly planning to drill more of them targeting the Utica Shale in the near future.

Meanwhile a new landowners group in the region is looking to secure a deal with Range or other companies migrating toward the northwest corner of the state for the acreage it holds.

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Oil and Gas Management (OOGM), two permits to drill natural gas wells — one horizontal, one vertical — in Crawford’s East Fairfield Township were issued to Range Resources Appalachia LLC on June 7. The permits for Range’s Lippert Unit #1H were the only ones issued for Crawford County this year and are, according to OOGM’s well inventory report, the only unconventional wells in the county.

Despite those figures, Crawford County is no stranger to drilling. OOGM data shows that the county’s well inventory contains an additional 3,263 conventional wells. Seven wells have been drilled in Crawford County so far this year, six of them conventional.

“We are [also] planning to drill in Greenwood Township,” Range spokeswoman Mary Patton told the Meadville Tribune. “We’re still putting together the application.”

As Range begins to make inroads into Crawford County, the Northwest Pennsylvania Landowners Group LLC (NWPA) is hoping other companies follow suit. The group, which formed only one year ago, now has more than 500 members who collectively own 40,000 acres in Crawford, Erie, Mercer, Venango and Warren counties.

Brian Pitzer, spokesman for NWPA, told NGI’s Shale Daily that the group would like to negotiate and conclude a deal for its members along similar lines as other landowner groups in neighboring Ohio.

“We’ve been in contact with several operators,” Pitzer said Monday. “What we’ve seen is that the activity for this region has been gradually coming north from the Pittsburgh area. We’re trying to get the best possible lease for our members from one or more energy companies.

“We don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but our intention is to get a lease that we can offer to all of our landowners — preferably with one [operator], but we’ll see how that plays out.”

Last year in eastern Ohio, the nonprofit Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley (ALOV) signed two lease agreements with Chesapeake Energy Corp. for the state’s coveted Marcellus and Utica shales (see Shale Daily, Nov. 7, 2011; May 11, 2011).

Another nonprofit, Standing United Really Excels (SURE), leased about 11,000 net acres in Carroll County, OH, for $40 million to Rex Energy Corp. (see Shale Daily, Sept. 12, 2011). The deal came out to an average price of $3,600 per acre, plus 20% royalties with no deductions.