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Oil & Gas Lease Prices in West Virginia's Marcellus Shale


West Virginia mineral owners are simply not asking enough for their leases.

The Motley Fool says that the Marcellus is the most economic shale play around.  In other words, oil and gas companies are getting the best bang for their buck right here in West Virginia.

When I saw that, I was shocked.  I've been involved in the oil and gas business long enough to know that we're not being paid much for our leases here.  Why would the most economical shale play in America not command higher prices?


Most lease offers right now are around $1,350/acre on the bonus and 12.5% on the royalty.  Admittedly, with a little negotiation and some leverage it's not hard to get to $1,500/acre and 14% royalty.  I've recently seen $1,800 and 18%.  Up in the northern panhandle at one point, some large tracts were commanding $5,000/acre on the bonus, and Wetzel and Marshall counties could count on $2,500/acre.

I decided to spend some time doing research on some of the other shale plays across the country.  What I discovered astounded me, and kind of made me mad.


Lessor's in the Bakken shale seem to be getting 1/6 (16-2/3%) to 3/16 (18.75%) pretty regularly, if forum discussions are a fair indicator.  The Haynesville Shale looks like it's from 3/16 up to 1/4.  The Barnett Shale got up to 1/4 easily, back when it was big.  I know from my own contacts that leases in the Utica Shale are going regularly for 18%.


Doing the same thing with bonuses, it appears that the Bakken shale averaged $3,600 back in November of 2009.  Public lands sold at auction by the federal government varied greatly in 2012.  The Haynesville Shale was apparently worth up to $30,000/acre at one time, but those kinds of prices just couldn't stand the test of time.  The Barnett Shale also got up to ridiculous prices, with large landowner groups getting $22,000 and $27,000 per acre, until the Barnett Shale play busted.  But it was common to hear of prices above $10,000/acre for quite a while down there.  The highest price reported in the Utica Shale last fall was $8,200.


So why can't we get prices like that here in West Virginia?

We don't demand it.

That's the only reason.

So, Marcellus Shale mineral owners, I've done the research for you.  I'll do my best to spread the word.  We need to demand more from the oil and gas companies.  Lots more.  If they don't deal with you now, they'll deal with you later.  There's no forced pooling in West Virginia, so time is on your side.

One last note.  Keep in mind that the Marcellus Shale isn't the only formation down there.  Parts of West Virginia have the Utica, and the Upper Devonian may someday be a very interesting play as well.  Who knows what other formations may produce in the future?  Don't sell your mineral interest for a pittance.


Kyle Nuttall is a former landman and practicing lawyer in the State of West Virginia.  You can view his web site at www.nuttalllegal.com.

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Comment by scharon howe on April 3, 2018 at 1:10pm

We have inherited some mineral rights. First Chesapeake and now SWN drilling for 10 years without  contacting us. Trying to talk to them is like trying to talk to the Jabberwocky  from Alice in Wonderland.

They talk in circles, refuse to reveal any information and want us to sign a lease that for sure is not in our best interest. I have well researched this situation. I know how much gas and oil they have removed since 2009 and by mid next week I will have a copy of their print out listing inheritors and the amounts they own and receive.

How do I get SWN to deal with me in an intelligent manner and stop treating me like a mushroom.  We just want what is due and a good lease for all future drilling.

I have learned a great deal from you websites and I am very grateful for the education.

Scharon Howe

Comment by r w kennedy on March 24, 2014 at 11:30am

Saying the forced pooling law passed when it didn't may be someones scare tactic, or a simple mistake. That forced pooling is being considered should concern you because the language in the law could protect mineral owners or take away vitually all rights so you take whatever the oil companies offer you. You need to be heard because the oil companies money is heard loud and clear in the halls of power and backroom campaign contributions.

Comment by Nancy Mosley on March 24, 2014 at 10:54am

Babete, I have read that the law failed in this latest session in WV but that they are going to try again in the next session.

Comment by Babete M. Wyatt on March 24, 2014 at 10:50am

I have read that the law passed forced pooling in WV

Comment by Sandra Dawn Tapman (Blair) on September 3, 2013 at 3:55pm
I tried to reach you but not sure the enail went thru! I am an heir to 16.23 acres in Wetzel County, WV, being offered $250.00 to sign Lease and 15%.royalties! There are about 10 or more heirs to this area! We were contacted by an energy company and had no idea we were even mineral right owners! We just want to be fairly treated and know that any people living near or on land are not affected. Can you help?
Comment by Diane Hinchliff Hesse on June 27, 2013 at 6:32pm

Thanks Kyle!  Very useful information.

Comment by jnk on June 22, 2013 at 11:32pm

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall. A very nice post, indeed.

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