by Billy Ball
It appears the relatively unknown Crimson Holdings Corporation wants to frack more than a handful of nature preserves in Durham, as reported in today's Indy.
Documents obtained by the Indy Wednesday show the company, which appears to be a small operation in Pittsburgh, made a similar request for mineral rights to the Chapel Hill Town Council last week. Their target? Roughly 51 acres of town-owned park land abutting Meadowmont, an upscale development on the border between Durham and Orange counties.
Chapel Hill Town Councilman Ed Harrison said the Meadowmont land is the largest town-owned tract in Durham County. The response from Chapel Hill appears to be bemusement.
In an email to Town Council members last week, Town Manager Roger Stancil wrote that he did not plan to take any action on the Crimson Holdings request following a meeting with the town's attorney.
In the letter, Crimson Holdings offered the town a fairly low leasing bonus of $5 per acre. As reported today, landowners in states with more of a known quantity of gas can command bonuses in the area of tens of thousands of dollars per acre.
It's the third confirmed gas leasing correspondence between Crimson Holdings and local landowners. Last week, leaders of the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, a conservationist group in Durham, declined the company's requests for mineral rights on several tracts. Another Durham County resident near Falls Lake also confirmed that they received a mineral rights leasing request from Crimson Holdings.
According to James Robinson, a leasing expert with Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA), it's the first confirmed leasing activity in North Carolina in several years. It comes about two months after state leaders lifted North Carolina's fracking moratorium.