Recent talk of a shale bust has been heating up as energy companies, largely prompted by falling natural gas prices, scale back on drilling new wells and dangle fewer, more modest lease deals in front of landowners with oil and gas drilling rights. But this isn’t stopping some financial advisory firms from stepping up their efforts to try to capture more business in this niche.

In fact, Clermont Wealth Strategies—part of Fulton Financial Corp., a $16.6 billion Lancaster, Pa.-based holding company that has $6.3 billion in assets under management through its various wealth management and trust services entities—recently launched an oil, gas and mineral management practice to help landowners with such assets.

“We project this to be a multi-billion wealth management opportunity across the state of Pennsylvania and we’d like to capture our fair share of that,” says Steven Karabin, Clermont Wealth Strategies’ wealth and mineral asset advisor. Karabin, who became a financial advisor after retiring from a long career as an oil and gas engineer, previously built a landowner-focused wealth management practice at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Most of Pennsylvania lies on top of the Marcellus Shale, a natural-gas-rich geological formation that also spans parts of West Virginia, Ohio and New York and small portions of Maryland and Virginia. Drilling activity in the Marcellus exploded several years ago with widespread adoption of hydraulic fracturing. The process, commonly referred to as fracking, involves drilling deep into underground rock formations and injecting them with highly pressurized liquid mixtures to extract oil and natural gas.

Clermont Wealth Strategies’ minerals practice—whose services include helping landowners understand and negotiate leases and figure out the value of their oil, gas and mineral interests—was created to provide added value to existing clients and to attract new clients. “It’s very difficult to approach landowners from a financial advisory mode,” says Karabin. “Many of these people never had wealth.”

The firm hopes that building a rapport and establishing credibility with these clients and showing them how they can build life-changing assets will put it in a better position to offer them wealth management, estate planning and other services, he says.

What about the shale bust concerns? Karabin acknowledges the leasing frenzy is over, but he largely attributes this to a temporary problem: maxed-out pipeline capacity that can’t carry more gas to market. In Pennsylvania, 1,500 to 2,000 Marcellus wells stand idle as they await pipelines, he says. He anticipates “tremendous activity” to resume once the pipeline network, which he says is undergoing billion-dollar construction projects, is built out in two to three years.

What’s more, he notes that so far drilling has only occurred in 3% of the drillable surface area in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. “It’s like we’re in inning one,” he says. Meanwhile, production figures are already hitting home runs.

In the first six months of 2013, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale produced a record $5 billion worth of natural gas, says Karabin, citing data from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Based on the state’s minimum 12.5% royalty rate—a percentage of the gross production value of gas extracted from a well—landowners should have collectively received more than $600 million in royalties during this period, he notes.

Signing bonuses—acre-based, up-front lump sums that landowners receive before drilling begins—aren’t looking too shabby either. Although energy companies are no longer offering signing bonuses of $6,000 to $7,000 an acre, he still sees some attractive $2,000 to $3,000 an acre deals.

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