Webinar to discuss ongoing implications of natural gas leases

University Park, Pa. -- While many landowners across Pennsylvania have signed lease agreements with natural gas exploration companies, new questions -- which may or may not be clear in the original leases -- continue to emerge.

A discussion of these questions will be the focus of a free Web-based seminar titled, "Post Leasing -- Considerations of What Happens Next, Lessons Learned to Date," at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21. Sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension, the "webinar" will provide information about the scope of existing and additional lease agreements.

Information about how to register for the webinar is available at http://naturalgas.extension.psu.edu/Events.htm. Online participants will have the opportunity to ask the speaker questions during the session.

"We are trying to raise awareness of the implications of the lease within the landowner's property and in the communities in which they live," said Tom Murphy, extension educator and co-director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (M-COR).

The webinar will address some of the trends landowners have been observing as the gas-extraction phase begins to ramp up in many parts of the state. Some of these trends include negotiations with landowners for siting the well pad, lease extensions, the addition of roads, pipelines, sound mitigation and the need for timbering, Murphy said.

The Penn State Marcellus Education Team, which Murphy works closely with, since 2005 has met with more than 40,000 people in more than 200 public meetings. Murphy acknowledged he is no stranger to Marcellus questions, citing examples of typical discussions.

"If the gas company calls you, if they want to put a pipeline in, what does that imply? Will they have to cut timber? What is the impact? Will the pipeline follow an existing right of way across the property? How will they restore the land where the pipeline went through? If you have to negotiate an access road, how do you price that?"

Murphy said there are numerous issues people didn't think about when they first signed the lease, and many of these now will need to be negotiated. These are the types of questions the webinar will explore. "What we're trying to do is create a realization," he said, "that people have signed a lease and are now asking how will it be implemented.

"Our job is education," Murphy said, "and giving people the information they need to make informed decisions." He noted that public education efforts by Penn State Extension and other groups have been able to generate millions of additional dollars for landowners in the commonwealth, and that M-COR will continue to present science-based information to the public.

The webinar is part of an ongoing series of workshops addressing issues related to the state's Marcellus shale gas boom. One-hour webinars also will be held at 1 p.m. on the following dates:

-- Feb. 18: "Underground Injection Wells as an Option for Disposal of Shale Gas Wastewaters: Policies and Practicality." Presenter: Karen Johnson, chief of the Ground Water and Enforcement Branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3.

-- March 18: "The Impact of Marcellus Shale: What Do the Economic Impact Studies Imply?" Presenter: Timothy Kelsey, Penn State Cooperative Extension state program leader for economic and community development.

Previous webinars -- which covered topics such as water use and quality, legal questions surrounding natural gas exploration, and gas-leasing considerations for landowners and implications for local communities -- can be viewed at http://naturalgas.extension.psu.edu/webinars.htm.

For more information, contact Joann Kowalski, extension educator in Susquehanna County, at 570-278-1158 or by e-mail at jmk20@psu.edu.

Last Updated November 18, 2010