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Billions in gas drilling royalties transform lives

January 27, 2013 • Business


In this Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 photo, Shawn Georgetti climbs out of his John Deere tractor on his 167-acre family dairy farm in Avella, Pa. With royalties from a Range Resources gas well on his property, Georgetti has been able to buy newer farm equipment that’s bigger, faster, and more fuel-efficient. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Private landowners are reaping billions of dollars in royalties each year from the boom in natural gas drilling, transforming lives and livelihoods even as the windfall provides only a modest boost to the broader economy.

In Pennsylvania alone, royalty payments could top $1.2 billion for 2012, according to an Associated Press analysis that looked at state tax information, production records and estimates from the National Association of Royalty Owners.

For some landowners, the unexpected royalties have made a big difference.

“We used to have to put stuff on credit cards. It was basically living from paycheck to paycheck,” said Shawn Georgetti, who runs a family dairy farm in Avella, about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

Natural gas production has boomed in many states over the past few years as advances in drilling opened up vast reserves buried in deep shale rock, such as the Marcellus formation in Pennsylvania and the Barnett in Texas.

Nationwide, the royalty owners association estimates, natural gas royalties totaled $21 billion in 2010, the most recent year for which it has done a full Login to read more

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