Department of Trust Lands says oil and gas companies are falling behind
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Dozens of oil and gas companies across the state have fallen behind on payments to the state public schools trust fund, according to the Department of Trust Lands. Those payments amount to millions of dollars that could help fund education in the state.
The royalties from oil and gas production on public land are dedicated toward education in North Dakota. However, oil and gas companies in the state take issue with how the royalties are collected and some members stop paying until the issue is resolved in court.
ND Petroleum Council President Ron Ness says the companies pay transportation fees to get better prices on the oil and the royalties should be discounted by how much they pay.
“A lot of clarification that’s needed here, there’s a lot of unsettled law, and at the end of the day State School Lands benefits by producing more oil and getting a higher price for it,” said Ness.
Commissioner Jodi Smith says that the funds not paid are delinquent. They prevent the trust fund from investing as much, and they don’t bring back as much money for the schools in the state.
“If an operator has owed us tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for multiple years it has a long term implication for the schools. It doesn’t necessarily decrease the amount we’re going to be distributing but it doesn’t allow us to increase it,” said Smith.
The commissioner is concerned about companies falling into bankruptcy and not having to pay what they owe. A deal is on the table for gas companies until September 30 to pay the principal and 4% interest on what the state says they owe and the fines will be waived.
The companies that the Department lists as out of compliance are:
Citation Oil and Gas LLC
Kraken Oil and Gas
Resource Energy RIM Operating
Ritter, Laber & Associates
Scout Energy Management
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