Cash-strapped Shreveport wants mineral leases

By Jeff Ferrell - bio|email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -  Shreveport will try once again to attract some mineral lease offers for natural gas drilling.  It's just the latest effort by city leaders to cash-in on the Haynesville Shale, that went bust last fall.

"We're at a point where we just actually need, need some money," declared District F Councilman Joe Shyne during a special meeting of the Shreveport City Council Friday (July 24) afternoon.

Shyne explained that's why the council wants to put 740-acres in southwest Shreveport up for bid for natural gas drilling.  He's not alone.  Shreveport City Council Vice Chairwoman Joyce Bowman added, "this is one sure way of at least putting something into our coffers."

Here's the rub:  How much to accept as a minimum offer.  The first idea presented to the council:  Two thousand dollars per acre for the lease signing bonus.  It is a far cry from the 30-thousand dollars once paid at the height of the Haynesville Shale boom a year ago.  "Bottom line is we are basically broke.  We don't have any money," lamented Bowman.

But such comments angered Mayor Cedric Glover who fears the city will now get low-balled in the upcoming bidding process.  "That puts you in a very, very, very diminished position from my perspective as both a citizen and a mayor of this city when it comes to engaging in these types of financial dealings and negotiations."

Six million dollars in budget cuts put the city in its current squeeze, having to freeze salaries and cut services.  And without 'leasing cash,' there could be more consequences.  Joe Shyne predicted, "there are some programs and some employees and maybe some services that we would probably, we'd probably have to cut, cut back on."

On the seventh try, the council voted unanimously for a minimum four thousand dollar lease signing bonus per acre, along with a 25-percent royalty rate, which would generate nearly 3-million dollars 'if' all the land is leased in mid-October by the Louisiana State Mineral Board.

A remark by Mayor Glover also raised some eyebrows at the special council meeting.  The mayor said the city reserve has the quote, "potential" to reach 3-million dollars by the end of the year.  Council Vice Chairman Joyce Bowman said that would have been nice to know.  She said she plans to ask what 'potential' means at the Monday work session.

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