CMT is about to unleash the outlandish Dowden family from NW Louisiana on the reality landscape. The show is called Bayou Billionaires and it’s like a fish out of water concept as it follows the Dowdens who just so happened to be sitting on the Haynesville Shale, which is one of the largest natural gas producing geological areas in the United States.
In the previews we see patriarchs Gerald and Kitten talking about their mailbox money, which is the checks they receive from the gas company. Here’s a cap from the supertrailer that reveals a check in the amount of $116,680.00.
The about section for the show via CMT partly reads:
In a modern day rags to riches story, Bayou Billionaires tells the story of the Dowdens of Shreveport, La. — a hardworking family of modest means who recently discovered their home sits on the fourth largest deposit of natural gas in the United States.
But how does sitting on the land over all this natural gas convert into mailbox money? Let’s break it down.
First off the rags part is a stretch because Gerald’s company, Dowden Plastering Co., has been open for business a long time. We aren’t talking about grandpa shootin’ at some food here like in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Back to the Haynesville Shale. Instead of trying to explain it poorly, check out this trailer about the discovery in a documentary called Haynesville.
From the doc:
“The economic impact of the Haynesville Shale play for this area is 1.75 trillion dollars. Now that is a gas field.”
Yeah the dude said trillion and according to a piece from The New York Times there was a serious boom back around 2008 when technology evolved that allowed big companies to get to the deposits. Instant millionaires were made when local land owners sold the mineral rights (the right of the owner to exploit, mine, and/or produce any or all of the minerals lying below the surface of the property) to gas companies.
At the time the price of such rights went from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $30,000 an acre. Boom indeed!
Here’s a clip of Gerald breaking it down to Anderson Cooper:
The Dowdens purchased their 80 acres of land in 1997 for $160,000. Today, they receive between $10,000 and $12,000 a month, per well. They currently have four wells on their land, but soon they will put in 20 — with each well lasting 16-20 years. The family could accumulate an estimated amount of $57.6 million.
According to The Shreveport Times, The Dowdens actually missed out on the gigantic upfront bonus payments because their 80 acres of land in Frierson, LA. were already held to production by unrelated wells. The Dowdens do get their “mailbox money” like some other fortunate landowners do around DeSoto Parish through royalty payments from producing Haynesville wells in neighboring sections. They’re in what is called a unit which is 640 acres or about one square mile.
In addition, Gerald cashed in even further by selling water from a big pond on his property to the gas and oil companies.
Here’s another video from FOX and Friends featuring Gerald and Kitten as they provide a little more detail about those wonderful once-a-month checks:
All of this is what has made Gerald and Kitten what the locals call shalenaires and pretty darn lucky too!