Landowners have what gas companies need.

Gas companies have what landowners want.

So why are they both knocking on the office doors of three men who have come to hold the keys to the bulk of the Southern Tier's multi-billion dollar natural gas-drilling prospects?

Meet the Marcellus Shale power brokers.

Two are local attorneys representing landowner coalitions that control more than 120,000 acres in central Broome County. A third is a landman from Oklahoma, entrusted with drilling rights to 10,000 acres in Vestal. All are competing for the next mega-deal with energy companies staking out the heart of the Marcellus that runs under the Southern Tier.

* Chris Denton, an Elmira attorney, built a career on lease transactions long before the Marcellus became the prize. He was among the first in the game and has amassed the biggest local following. He represents coalitions holding unleased land in Windsor and Kirkwood, with 95,000 acres, a coalition in Tioga County, with about 65,000 acres, as well as other groups.

* Scott Kurkoski, a partner with Levene Gouldin & Thompson in Vestal, represents eight coalitions in Broome and Tioga counties with about 80,000 acres, including 18,000 acres in the towns of Binghamton and Conklin. He also represents groups in central New York.

* Dean Lowry, a principal in Llama Horizontal Drilling, is a gas and oil industry career man following the call of the Marcellus to Vestal. He controls leases of about 600 landowners who commissioned him to find a buyer for mineral rights to 9,859

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