PENNSBORO - An energy company is exploring the idea of tapping mineral resources in a Ritchie County town.
Representatives from Antero Resources earlier this week met with the Pennsboro City Council at its regular meeting. The gas and oil drilling officials presented the idea of placing well pads outside the city limits and drilling under the city.
Councilman Jim Props said the issue is preliminary.
"It was a presentation stating they were interested," he said. "They were seeking input from the city and the community. It will be a long process."
For the project to work, the city would have to approve and Antero would have to get approval from city property owners. Pennsboro's city limits cover about 400 acres and about 1,200 properties.
Councilman Vance Weekley said the city has an ordinance prohibiting drilling within city limits.
"You can't drill within 250 feet of any residence," he said. "That would include the majority of the city."
In order for Antero to move forward, the ordinance would have to be repealed by council.
"Those who own mineral rights within the city would reap the benefits," Weekley said.
Gas and oil is nothing new to Pennsboro or Ritchie County. The area was thriving in the late 19th and early 20th century due to oil and gas and railroads.
Ritchie County was dotted with boom towns. The county's population at the turn of the 20th century was close to 20,000. Now it is a little more than 10,000.
The county seat of Harrisville was once known as the Taxless Town. Residents paid no taxes as the town was able to sustain itself on revenue from municipal oil wells.
Weekley stressed everything is preliminary and nothing has been decided.
"We, ourselves, don't know all the details yet," Weekley said.
Props said there were a few residents who attended the meeting. He said no one was vociferously against the idea, but several asked a lot of "what if" questions.
He also said no residents were voicing support for the idea. Props said none of the town's council members made comments.
"It is something that needs more information," he said. "It's nothing that will happen tomorrow or next week. They haven't got that far yet."
Drilling officials will hold a community meeting at a later date to provide additional information and receive comments on the idea. No date for that meeting has been set.
Mike Hall with Hall's Drilling in Ellenboro participated in the presentation. A message left at Hall's office Thursday was not returned.
Attempts to contact Pennsboro Mayor Mary Jane Allen Thursday and Friday were unsuccessful.
"I've got a feeling this is going to take some time," said Councilman Peggy Mahaney.