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Montana Mineral Owners Receive Low-Ball Offers from Federal Government

by Elizabeth Alford on July 29, 2015

The federal government must recalculate land buy-back offers that short changed mineral lease owners on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.

Related: New Fracking Rules for Public Lands

A program signed signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 was designed to give individual landowners an opportunity to help address the problem of fractionation, the divided ownership that happens as land parcels passed to numerous heirs over generations. The buy-back program has  $1.9 billion available to purchase fractional interests.

Original purchase offers were made for $7.50 per acre, but land carrying a mineral lease is worth quite a bit more. The original deal valued at $128 million would cheat residents out of milions

Interior spokeswoman, Treci Johnson blamed human error for the wide difference in the purchase offers for land with mineral leases for Peck Reservation lands. “To correct the error, Johnson said additional mineral research will need to be conducted and the land will be further analyzed to ‘ensure that corrected offers reflect fair market value for mineral interests.’ ”

The Department of the Interior estimates that there are approximately 150 reservations with 2.9 million purchasable fractional interests owned by approximately 245,000 individuals.

Fort Peck residents have until July 30th to agree to the purchase, though Johnson says a new deadline should be forthcoming.

Read more at doi.gov

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