Big Haynesville Shale leases shut out small firms

SHREVEPORT, LA (AP) - The Haynesville Shale injected nearly $4 billion into the northwest Louisiana economy last year. But local oil and gas firms say they're shut out.

Small independent companies can't afford the expensive horizontal wells needed to drill into the natural gas deposit. And David Fite and Tim Marshall say they can pay only a few hundred dollars an acre for leases - not the thousands shelled out during the boom of 2008.

Fite says it's hard enough making a profit at $150 an acre, let alone the $10,000 an acre that landowners now want.

Joe Anderson, vice president of Nadal and Guzman North Louisiana, says typical lease bonuses used to run $75 to $250. He says leases for conventional plays now run $100 to $500 an acre.

He says that's dropping gradually, with the sinking price of natural gas.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)