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issues, but here it expects operators to
pay while the case is still pending?" Ness
muses. "The judge has made it very clear
Newfield has a case, and other operators
obviously will have their own unique
cases. It is tough to find common ground
when we are told to pay up or get hit
with huge penalties and interest at a time
when producers are not in their offices
and so many factors are in play. The
whole ordeal is mystifying."
"When I say NDPC has been forced to
wade far out into the legal world, these are
the sorts of challenges I'm talking about,"
Neset says. "We have to work on this for
our members because it is so important."
Further complicating the issue is the
Board of University and School Lands'
role in evaluating royalty payments, Ness
says. "The board is hard to predict,
because it consists of five independent
elected people who come together to discuss a topic about which they all bring
their own concerns," he considers. "Three
of those members know little about oil
and gas investment and subjects such as
decline curves, and their experience is
limited to talking about it for 15 minutes
once a month or so."
"The land board is trying to make the
Supreme Court ruling retroactive to the
last 40 years of North Dakota oil production,"
Neset describes. "That is not how it works.
When a new requirement comes into effect,
it starts from that day. Don't go back and
act in a punitive manner toward oil companies, especially at a time like this."
Not only are oil and gas companies
facing the practical realities associated with
slumping commodity prices and pandemic
challenges, she reflects, but if a state entity
rushes to fleece producers as they fight to
remain solvent, companies beyond those
directly involved get a chilling message.
"Look at the bigger picture," Neset
urges. "Companies will be very hesitant
or unable to get the capital they need to
operate if they are in an unstable environment."
Supreme Court Win
With the North Dakota Supreme Court's
July 30 ruling in Sorum v. State of North
Dakota, NPDC is celebrating a legal
victory for mineral owners. As NDPC
describes it, the ruling upholds legislation
passed in 2017, which paved the way to a
conclusion that the state does not own
the minerals underlying Lake Sakakawea
except under the ordinary high water mark
(OHWM) of the historical Missouri
riverbed channel. The court also held that
refunding suspended royalty proceeds, or
escrowed royalty proceeds already paid
to the state, to the private mineral owners
above the OHWM of the historical Mis-

souri riverbed is consistent with the state's
constitution. The high court also reversed
a lower court's award of attorneys' fees
and a service award to the plaintiffs.
On the day the ruling was issued, an
NDPC statement described it as an important step in ensuring mineral royalties
along the historical Missouri River riverbed
return to their rightful owners. "By affirming
the constitutionality of the legislation
passed in 2017 that properly determined
the OHWM, greater certainty exists for
North Dakota operators in ensuring proper
payment of royalties occurs moving forward," the statement assesses.
Resolving this matter has been one of
NDPC's top priorities, Ness says, noting
that NDPC helped persuade lawmakers
to approve the 2017 legislation. "It is a
huge win for the industry and private
mineral owners," he comments. "There
were billions of dollars and some extremely valuable minerals at stake. Producers get refunded for leases on which
they had to double their royalty payments,
and they will be more willing to drill in
the future with the situation clarified."
"Mineral ownership remains where it
originated," Neset affirms. "The families
who own those minerals-and there are
many-can benefit, and it also offers a
clear way forward. This is how mineral
ownership is supposed to work. NDPC
spent five years supporting this effort
legally, legislatively and with outreach
and education."
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - Intro
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 1
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 2
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 3
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 4
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 6
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 7
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 8
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 9
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 10
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 11
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 17
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 18
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 21
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 27
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 28
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 34
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 35
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 36
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 37
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American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 41
American Oil and Gas Reporter - September 2020 - 42
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aogr/202009
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