Answer; The O&G Companies. Cities, Parishes and State government!
Chesapeake (CHK) DID have 500,000 acres under lease, bt recently closed on a transaction with Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) in which they sold 110,000 acres to PXP for $3.3 billion. That's $30,000 per acre and establishes that amount as a "Fair Market Value". Without question that was what is referred to as "An arms length transaction" and needs to be kept in mind when negotiating Haynesville leases.
How in the hell can CHK, PXP or any other Oil and Gas operator for that matter, think we should get a penney less than they wanted---and PXP was willing to pay for--those 110,000 acres. Don't let any of those guys try to low ball you with that argument that "your acreage is "iffy", "outside the play", "marginal", "likely non-productive", worth no more than the Joneses leased for $200 and 3/16" and on and on.
If that BS was true why would their client have sent them out there? No logic in that spiel. If everyone --other than "the Joneses" sticks to their guns those guys will get right--with everyone! How fortunate we are to have the lessons learned in the Barnett Shale play. Haste makes wasteisn't just a snappy one liner, recent history has proven that saying to be the truth.
The Louisiana Minerals Board sold state owned mineral acreage for $32,212 per acre. These examples ought to send the message if you have knowledge of the anticipated returns minerals in the Haynesville will bring, you come much closer to getting what you should. Hang in, I know that up front money has a powerful magnetism to it but get YOUR price, not theirs.