Marcellus Shale gas drillers today bid $128.5 million to develop nearly 32,000 acres of Pennsylvania State Forest land, generating double the amount of revenue the state had targeted for the sale.
EXCO Resources Inc. bid the highest amount per acre for one of the six tracts up for auction – $5,250 an acre for a 4,639-acre tract in Moshannon State Forest in Clearfield County, or $24.4 million.
Seneca Resources was the winning bidder on two tracts. The others will go to Anadarko Exploration and Production, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, and Penn Virginia Oil and Gas.
Department of Natural Resources and Conservation officials opened the bids this afternoon at DCNR’s Harrisburg headquarters. The six tracts are in the Elk, Moshannon, Sproul, Susquehannock and Tioga state forests in Cameron, Clearfield, Clinton, Potter and Tioga counties.
Rather than creating a state severance tax on natural gas, the state Legislature last year ordered DCNR to generate $60 million for the commonwealth’s treasury from new gas leases.
Currently, 660,000 acres of the 2.1 million acres of state forest land are under lease for gas production, the department said.