Negotiations of Oil and Gas Auxiliary Lease Clauses: Evidence from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale
Oil and gas lease negotiations provide mineral owners the opportunity to negotiate for both compensation and auxiliary clauses that may protect their health and properties. We use optical character recognition to assemble a novel dataset of compensation and specific clauses in nearly 60,000 leases signed in the Marcellus Shale Play of Pennsylvania. We leverage the dataset to produce three main findings. First, contrary to the standard utility maximization model, we find a positive relationship between compensation and clauses. Second, we find that as development of the shale play progressed over time, compensation rose and leases became more likely to contain environmentally protective clauses. Third, we find that compensation and the presence of clauses have a weak relationship with the geologic productivity of nearby wells. Together, our findings indicate that oil and gas firms simultaneously make concessions by raising compensation and approving clauses, but these concessions do not depend on geologic productivity. This suggests that some mineral owners, such as those that are high-income or from more socially organized communities, have the skills or resources to negotiate for more favorable leases all-around and point to similar environmental justice concerns identified in other shale plays.