ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Chesapeake Energy is expanding its operations in Belmont County by purchasing 30 acres of property at Fox Commerce Park for $300,000.
The purchase now on file at the Belmont County Recorder's Office accompanies dozens of new leases Chesapeake recently signed. The new leaseholdings are scattered throughout the county, with the Oklahoma City-based driller staking claims in Goshen, Colerain, Flushing, Pultney, Kirkwood, Mead, Pease and Warren townships.
Chesapeake also paid $330,000 to purchase 10.66 acres of land and a warehouse at 41340 National Road in Belmont, with most of this money going to United Bank once the Belmont County Sheriff's Department completed the sale to Chesapeake.
The deed on file at the recorder's office does not indicate how much Chesapeake paid the Belmont County Community Improvement Corp. for the land at Fox Commerce Park. However, attorney Richard Myser, who prepared the deed, said the price was $300,000.
County commissioners recently voted to allow the Fox Commerce land to be sold from the CIC to Chesapeake. Sue Douglass, Belmont County Community Improvement Corp. director, said the land will be for the construction of some sort of office for Chesapeake. She said the property is located across from the FedEx building at Fox Commerce, which now features 12 operational businesses on its 125 acres.
"Once we negotiate the deal for the county, we step aside," Douglass said of the Chesapeake deal.
Despite all of the transactions and talks, Chesapeake spokesman Pete Kenworthy said the driller would have no comment regarding any of the deals.
With his company's operations continuing to grow in eastern Ohio, Chesapeake Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon has estimated the value of Ohio's share of the Utica shale at about $500 billion.
According to Chesapeake's website, the company maintains three regional offices - Shreveport, La., Fort Worth, Texas and Charleston, W.Va. - in addition to its headquarters in Oklahoma City. There are numerous smaller "field offices" across the nation, with the closest being in Canonsburg, Pa.
In addition to Chesapeake, international companies like Exxon Mobil (via subsidiaries XTO Energy and Phillips Resources) and New York City-based Hess Corp. (via the acquisition of Marquette Exploration) are staking their claims in the Utica shale in Belmont, Harrison and Jefferson counties.