Letter: Amended mineral rights bill will do little to help landowners

Bob Skarphol writes, "The rewritten industry bill will not solve the issues raised by mineral owners without the provisions originally requested."

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Mineral owners have been working with legislators to gain information related to deductions as high as 80% taken from their checks. Industry members concurred with what royalty owners have been saying for years during the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing:

Bruce Larson, president of Kraken Operating:

  • “Kraken would love to be part of a broader solution that looks at ways to eliminate or penalize specific companies that fail to pay or respond to legitimate concerns in a timely manner.”
  • “We (as all operators should be) are open and receptive to a penalty being assessed against an operator who willfully withholds information that a royalty owner is entitled to.”
Western North Dakota landowners who lease their mineral rights to oil producers have long feuded with the powerful industry over access to information and disputed fees.

Craig Smith, attorney for Crowley Fleck:

  • “…we recognize that there are legitimate royalty owner concerns and communication efforts between operators and mineral owners (that) can be improved.”

Jason Weddle, land director with Chord Energy:

  • “We acknowledge that no industry and no company is perfect. Mistakes are sometimes made.”

Kate Black, vice president of Inland Oil & Gas


  • “I will attest that some operators are more responsive or have better customer service than others.”

While the industry agreed there is an ongoing issue, they nonetheless worked with senators to completely change Senate Bill 2374, which was brought forth by mineral owners. Not a single word of the original bill remained in the amended version that was passed by the committee. It is indefensible that a multi-billion-dollar industry can manipulate legislation without the knowledge or input of those who originally created the bill.
The rewritten industry bill will not solve the issues raised by mineral owners without the provisions originally requested. Hopefully the House Energy and Natural Resources committee will consider amending SB 2374 so companies will be required to be more responsive and comply with existing laws and regulations before sending it back to the senate.

Bob Skarphol is with the Williston Basin Royalty Owners Association

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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