NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma is holding onto $105 million owed mineral rights owners and the state can’t find the beneficiaries.
It’s feared most owners will never know that they’re missing out on their share of the state’s oil and gas boom.
In 2012, one of the Oklahoma’s two reserve accounts, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission -- which holds ubclaimed royalty payments for five years -- owed more than 262,000 missing mineral-rights owners. The highest individual amount owed was $329,270.
The problem is that some land owners have properties that might not have generated any lease or production payments for years, if ever, an ownership records have become outdated.
Most people with substantial mineral rights know what they own and do what is necessary to make sure they receive their share, said David Sikes, past president of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners. Missing owners tend to have smaller interests and aren’t even aware they are owed money, he said.
“It’s a really cool thing. It’s your birthright,” Sikes said. “To maximize it, you have to pay attention to what you have.”
The unclaimed accounts have swelled in recent years because of a boom in leasing activity and oil and gas production from new wells. Oklahoma now produces more oil and natural gas every month than it has in at any point in the preceding 19 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The advent of horizontal drilling technology, which opened the door to drilling in shale formations, has spurred the most recent gas boom.
Details for this story were provided by The Norman (Okla.) Transcript.