Statoil, West Virginia agree on deal for drilling under Ohio River

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia and Statoil have agreed on a deal for natural gas and oil drilling under the Ohio River.

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register reports that Norway-based Statoil plans to drill on about 474 acres of state-owned land under the river in Marshall and Wetzel counties.

Statoil has agreed to pay an average price of $8,732 per acre. The state also will receive 20 percent production royalties.

Department of Commerce spokeswoman Chelsea Ruby tells the newspaper that the state is still finalizing drilling agreements with Gastar Exploration and Noble Energy.

Leasing state-owned land for hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique commonly called fracking, is a new venture for West Virginia.