50 years ago

Aneth basin poised for oil and gas leasing

By Bill Donovan
Special to the Times

March 01, 2012

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I t's a quiet week on the Navajo Reservation, a little chilly, with temperatures dipping to under 10 degrees at night but the days are mostly mild. The major snowstorms this week are in the Northeast.

Prospective candidates for next year's chairmanship race are apparently taking a break as well, since there are no reports in the media about any appearances by with the two front-runners, Samuel Billison and Raymond Nakai.

As for Dillon Platero, he is still sitting on the sidelines trying to make up his mind whether to run.

Inside tribal government, officials in the Paul Jones administration are up late trying to meet deadlines he put in place so he could bid out the mineral rights to some land in the Aneth, Utah, area.

Jones wants a lease for oil and gas development signed and sealed before he leaves office next year and he knows that getting all the needed approvals from the tribe and the U.S. Interior Department could take up to a year. So if he wants to claim bragging rights on the deal, the request-for-bids has to go out in the next few weeks.

The tribe is preparing to offer outside companies the right to drill for oil and natural gas on approximately 3,892 acres in San Juan County, Utah.

Jones expects that there will be a lot of interest in those lands, since they have been proven to contain enormous oil and gas reserves. The big question is whether the companies will agree to a 20 percent royalty rate.

The tribe is also requiring whoever gets the bid to pay rent of $1.25 an acre on the land between the time the lease is approved and drilling begins.

Jones is optimistic, however, that the tribe will be able to find companies willing to meet the tribe's terms. If so, whoever is elected chairman in 1963 can be assured of getting several hundred thousand dollars more in revenues.

But this is in the future and most tribal members are just glad that the weather has moderated and there are no obstacles like snow or icy roads to impede their weekly trip to town.

Given the good weather predictions, it should be a busy weekend for the supermarkets and movie theaters in Gallup and other border communities.

Moviegoers in Gallup can catch Walt Disney's "The Parent Trap" at the El Morro, now in its second week.

The movie features Disney's newest star, Hayley Mills, playing the lead character and her twin sister in a comedy that has been pulling in both kids and adults throughout the country.

The Chief Theater, located down the street from the El Morro next to the City Electric Shoe Store, once again is going for the crowd that wants to spend a whole afternoon in the theatre for 20 cents.

It's showing a double feature - a comedy called "Everything's Ducky" starring Andy Rooney and Buddy Hackett, and a big-name western called, appropriately, "Cowboy."

The Andy Rooney movie is a sure bet for the kids and will give Navajo parents from the reservation somewhere to park their children while they go shopping. The storyline goes something like this: Two sailors (Rooney and Hackett) sneak a talking duck on board their ship. Complications ensue.

"Cowboy," starring Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon, should be a big movie and in fact it was, back when it premiered in 1958. But four years later, it's playing in drive-ins and in places like The Chief, where the producers hope that they can get a few more dollars out of it before the TV rights go on the market.

Comedy and westerns have proven to be powerful attractions at The Chief. It's still more than a decade until the cut-rate movie palace starts offering kung fu and martial arts flicks.

JC Penney's, located down the block from the movie theaters, is hoping that when the parents drop off their kids, they will walk the few hundred feet to take advantage of its winter special - two shirts for $5. They don't have to be the same size so more than one family member can be outfitted.

Speaking of shopping, California Superama continues to be the most popular supermarket in the Gallup area, partly because the owners make it a practice to offer specials tailored to reservation residents, such as coffee for 63 cents a pound and Cracker Jacks at four boxes for a quarter.

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