West Virginia opened bidding for permits to drill under the state’s section of the Ohio River Friday in an effort to shore up government coffers.
The leases could generate millions of dollars in upfront payments for the state and yield long term revenues through production royalties.
“It creates what could be a substantial revenue stream at a time when budgets are very tight,” West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said.
The total number of bids placed so far has not been disclosed.
State officials said other river tracts could be up for permit bids in the future and that a wildlife management area is currently under construction, the AP said.
All permits would be subject to the approval of state environmental legislators.
Burdette said drilling at state parks is not currently being considered and that drilling for the new permits would be off state land.
Houston-based Noble Energy, Houston-based Gastar Exploration and Norway’s Statoil placed bids with 20 percent royalty rates.
Ohio-based Triad Hunter submitted a bid with an 18 percent royalty rate.
State officials plan to choose the winners within the next two weeks.