July 15, 2008
Mansfield wants to get in on mineral rights leasing
By Vickie Welborn
MANSFIELD — With 113 acres here, five acres there, one or two acres over yonder, the city of Mansfield could stand to gain some unexpected revenue if oil and gas companies zero in on the city for potential natural gas exploration and drilling.
That's why Mayor Curtis McCoy asked Marjorie McKeithen, the state's Mineral Board secretary, to give city leaders tips Monday on how best to handle potential leasing.
"When I heard about that $28 million, we got busy," McCoy joked, referring to the $28.7 million cash bonus payment the DeSoto Police Jury received last week for leasing 1,045 acres that included the parish airport and surrounding property.
McKeithen is spreading the word to government agencies in northwest Louisiana about the benefits of utilizing her office to handle leasing of natural gas mineral rights. McKeithen, who's only headed the state Mineral Board for a year and a half, said the big numbers related to the Haynesville Shale has made her job more fun.
She recalled that a good day a year ago was when the state Mineral Board received a bid of $200 an acre with 20 percent royalty. Numbers started jumping once news of the Haynesville Shale leaked in April. In June, bids reached $17,000 an acre. Last week, DeSoto commanded $27,512 an acre and 27.5 percent royalty and Caddo, $30,212 an acre with 30 percent royalty.
"I think it so far seems to be in your best interest to use us," McKeithen said.
But overall her message was that Mansfield, like other government entities in the area, can benefit from letting the state Office of Mineral Resources do the leg work — and it's all at no charge to the city.
District A Alderman G.B. Hall III asked who was responsible for researching the property titles. While McKeithen said it is the city's job to tell the Office of Mineral Resources what it owns, she said she has instructed the state staff to "bend over backwards" to help Mansfield and other municipalities with their work.
"We will do more than we usually do because it can get overwhelming," she said.
McCoy said he already had attorney Richard Z. Johnson Jr. prepare a package of information on the city's acreage. McCoy said he still didn't have a total of the acreage, however, since it was so scattered.
But he does know the city has 57 miles of streets and those, too, are eligible for leasing.
McKeithen complimented Shreveport for the information it is making available about the Haynesville Shale on its Web site. Mansfield is going to follow suit with its Web site.
Helen Godfrey-Smith, of Shreveport, a new appointee to the state Mineral Board, accompanied McKeithen to the meeting.