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North Dakota’s Complex Mineral Rights Issues

by Elizabeth Alford on August 28, 2017

A controversial oil and gas drilling project in North Dakota highlights the complex mix of private, state and federal mineral rights on tribal lands.

Related: North Dakota Fighting for Millions in Royalties

Within one week’s time, the federal government halted and then allowed drilling on a series of wells near Lake Sakakawea in Mountrail County, North Dakota. The Bureau of Land Management granted permits in 2011 for Slawson Exploration to drill multiple horizontal wells from a single well pad beneath the lake, but they were quickly challenged by local tribes.

The Three Affiliated Tribes  - the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation – have asked the Interior Board of Land Appeals to stop Slawson from drilling. They claim the location of the well pad conflicts with a tribal resolution imposing a 1,000 foot setback from the lake, but Slawson contends that the tribe’s setback should not apply to privately owned property.

Slawson’s ‘Torpedo Federal Project’ is now embroiled in litigation involving several jurisdictions and will likely be a test case for the boundary issues that have never been tried.

U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland is allowing drilling to continue through October while the challenge is being argued. He indicated that the MHA Nation does not have civil jurisdiction over Slawson or the BLM.

“The issuance of a temporary restraining order would simply vacate the order dated August 9, 2017; however, normal board procedures would continue to apply. To the contrary, if the temporary restraining order is not granted, Slawson asserts it will likely move the drilling rig off of the well pad to a different [site], in order to mitigate injury, and still incur substantial costs in doing so.” –  U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland

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Pennsylvania Tries Again to Clarify Royalty Deductions

by Elizabeth Alford on August 11, 2017

Pennsylvania legislator introduces legislation aimed at increasing fairness and transparency for landowners who receive natural gas royalties.

Pennsylvania Considers Minimum Royalties

Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Washington/Allegheny) introduced House Bill 1708 today that defines post-production costs and acceptable deductions allowed by oil and gas producers. The bill is the latest attempt by lawmakers to amend the Oil and Gas Lease Act of 1979 to provide better definitions and clarity for royalty payments.

“It is critical that the legislature take action to protect landowners and make sure companies live up to their end of the agreements. Lessors should have peace of mind knowing they never owe a company money for royalties, as this was something brought to my attention that we are going to clear up in this legislation once and for all. My office has received numerous calls regarding concerns with gas royalty payments. While my proposal – or any legislation – cannot change existing leases, if approved, it would put in place important protections to make sure landowners receive the royalties to which they are entitled.” - Rep. Jason Ortitay

Primarily, the bill defines what is considered to be an acceptable deduction. Other highlights include:

  • Landowners receive a written summary of deductions and can review records to confirm the authenticity of deductions
  • All sales take place as an arms-length transaction ensure appropriate business practices that do not jeopardize royalty owners
  • Prohibits the issuance of negative balance royalty checks

Representative Garth Everett [R] tried three times to amend the Oil and Gas Lease Act from 1979. Everett’s first attempt was during the 2013-2014 session, where HB 1648 would have guaranteed that Pennsylvania landowners would get minimum royalty payments of 12.5%–regardless of post-production expenses. When that attempt failed, Everett re-introduced a similar bill it during the 2015-2016 session, however, that one also failed. In February, Everett tried again, by introducing House Bill 557.


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Louisiana Fights to Keep Royalties

July 31, 2017

Louisiana pushes back against a Trump initiative to take away more of the state’s oil and gas royalties. Royalty Payments: Who’s Getting Rich? In his 2018 federal budget, President Trump is proposing to eliminate the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which provides critical funding for Louisiana’s coastal restoration. These funds come from the state’s […]

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Royalty Payments: Who’s Getting Rich?

July 24, 2017

Lots of people are getting rich from oil and gas royalties and Washington is getting its share. Related: North Dakota Fighting for Millions in Royalties Receiving royalties from oil and gas activity can be lucrative. An estimated $22 billion was paid out in royalties to private mineral rights owners in 2013. A new study by the Government […]

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Tennessee Weighs Executive Order on Oil and Gas Activity

July 20, 2017

Tennesee is paying close attention to a new executive order that paves the way for more oil and oil and gas extraction in the state’s National Parks. North Dakota Fighting for Millions in Royalties In March, President Trump signed an order that required federal agencies to review or rescind policies that ‘burdened’ the development of […]

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North Dakota Fighting for Millions in Royalties

July 15, 2017

Oil and gas companies and industry leaders are in a dispute with North Dakota officials over improper deductions on royalties owed to the state. Who Owns Mineral Rights Under North Dakota Lake? The North Dakota Department of Trust Lands wants to collect millions of dollars in oil and gas royalties that it believes were improperly withheld by oil and […]

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Oklahoma Law to Add Jobs & Generate Royalties

June 28, 2017

A new Oklahoma law means more money for royalty payments and greater protection for oil and gas producers in the state. Own mineral rights in Oklahoma? Join the discussion. Last month, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 867 into law, which expands laws for horizontal drilling.  Also known as the Oklahoma Energy Jobs Act of […]

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Mineral Owners Win Against ConocoPhillips

June 21, 2017

Texas mineral owners win a huge judgment against ConocoPhillips for lost mineral royalties. Related: Mineral Rights Litigation Swells Across Country Leon and Minerva Ramirez have been fighting for their rightful share of the mineral royalties from their family land for over seven years. ConocoPhillips had been extracting oil and gas from the family’s land since 1995 […]

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Methane Rules Stand

June 16, 2017

In a surprise move, the United States Senate has voted to keep Obama’s methane ruling. Related: EPA: Tougher Methane Emissions Approved Last month, key Republicans joined Democrats to uphold the power granted to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during the Obama Administration to regulate some the oil and gas activity. The BLM had been granted the authority to […]

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Ohio Counties Benefit from Oil and Gas Lease Sales

May 21, 2017

Ohio counties are reaping the benefits from the controversial sale of oil and gas leasing rights. Related: Anti-fracking campaigns in Wayne National Forest At the end of 2016, the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auctioned off acreage in the Wayne National Forest for future gas exploration and production. The $1.7 million deal included more than […]

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