Landowners inch toward natural gas lease deal

NORWICH – It’s taking more time than expected for landowner groups to reach leasing agreements with natural gas companies due, in part, to new environmental reviews required for horizontal well permits and water withdrawal limits set by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

In July, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation made environmental quality reviews a part of the application process for new well permits. The SRBC, just a few weeks ago, announced a policy change that requires prior approval for natural gas companies to withdraw water for drilling purposes.

The Oxford Land Group, which represents 350 private landowners who own 24,000 acres, had expected to receive lease bids back in August and enter into an agreement this fall. Group consultant Jackie Root said tighter scrutiny of the industry had slowed leasing activity across the state.

“Deals are taking more time,” she said.

Group President Bryant LaTourette said companies that were interested in bidding need more time. “Their main concern is New York State restrictions that have been put upon them. They are restricting offers,” he said.

A Vestal landowner group representing 6,000 acres recently met with similar delay, LaTourette said.

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