State officials and property-owner advocates will conduct an informational session tonight to help landowners negotiate lease offers with energy exploration companies.
Previous sessions on this topic in the past year had packed attendance as farmers and other landowners seek guidance on signing mineral rights contracts with companies that want to drill for natural gas on their land.
Drilling companies have contacted hundreds of residents in Lee and Chatham counties, where underground natural gas reserves are believed to be concentrated. State geologists estimate that the shale gas deposits contain enough fuel to supply the state for four decades.
Some are concerned that residents are signing away their property rights for a fraction of their value and signing contracts that hold landowners financially responsible for spills or other environmental accidents on their properties.
The 2-hour program in the Chatham County Agriculture Building in Pittsboro will be conducted by attorney Ted Feitshans, a state extension specialist and one of the few mineral rights experts in the state.
The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. at 45 South Street in Pittsboro. It will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
For more information, contact Chatham County Extension Director Sam Groce at 919-542-8202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accessing shale gas requires horizontal drilling as well as a technology called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which water and chemicals are injected underground at very high pressures to crack open rock formations and release the trapped gas.
The two technologies are currently not legal in North Carolina, but the state legislature is expected to consider updating its energy exploration laws. This summer the General Assembly passed a law to finance a comprehensive study of the risks and benefits of natural gas exploration.
The risks of shale gas extraction are environmental damage caused by chemical injections, drinking water contamination as well as the potential of spills and accidents.