And keeps the
gold gas for itself:
Lee County officials this month released detailed property data revealing who owns the mineral rights to extract natural gas or other buried resources. The data shows that the owners of 365 parcels, on about 12 square miles, do not own the rights to drill or mine under their land. Many of them are concentrated in the northwestern gas-rich section of the county.
This morning, Lee County officials released a map of the area that, for the first time, will inform residents if they own the mineral rights underneath their yards.
The reason many landowners may not know whether they own their mineral rights is because Lee County was formed in 1907. But landowners were not required by law to disclose the separation of oil, gas and mineral rights to purchasers until October 2012.
Dan Butler is a Lee County mineral rights owner who resides in a neighboring area. Back in 1974, Butler purchased the mineral rights for approximately 2,700 of acres of land. It’s the land under which his father, a coal miner, worked. He’s now the single largest holder of mineral rights in the jurisdiction.
Butler leased his mineral rights to WhitMar Exploration Company. They are working to determine if oil and gas resources are locked in shale-rock formations underneath.
Here's a link to the supposedly interactive map, although I haven't been able to figure out how to navigate within.
As far as these reassurances from Weyerhaeuser, I'm not so reassured:
Weyerhaeuser owns 1,163 acres of mineral rights and has leased 941 acres to Tar Heel Oil & Gas, which is based in Charlotte.
“We only lease to reputable entities,” company spokeswoman Nancy Thompson said by email.
It's hard to have a reputation when you don't even exist. The name of that company mentioned above is a careless hybridization of the names of two separate companies involved in this issue:
Denver, Colo.-based WhitMar Exploration Co. has leased more than 5,800 acres in Lee County from about 55 landowners since early 2010, according to county records. Tar Heel Natural Gas LLC, of Charlotte, has leased at least 940 acres in the county. A third company says it has leased an unspecified number of acres there.
And North Carolina Oil and Gas LLC, a co-op is in downtown Sanford, has informal agreements to represent the owners of “several thousand” acres in negotiations with drilling companies, co-owner Ray Covington says.
The mystery is easily solved, though. I'm sure the tree-killing giant is dealing with the Charlotte LLC, because Covington uses the Mr. Haney-style snake oil salesman approach to getting what he wants, and would be laughed right out of Weyerhaeuser's legal office.