The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint-United they stand; drillers back down

By Katie Hudson-Martinez/feature editor

Leasing mineral rights is a hot topic around Texas, and the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is no exception.

Since recent advances in Barnett-Shale technology and a sharp rise in the price of natural gas have made extracting the resource a profitable enterprise, oil and gas companies have cropped up everywhere pressuring owners to lease their mineral rights.

But does anyone know how much their rights are really worth?

One Tarrant County resident signed a lease of his mineral rights for a $1,000-per-acre signing bonus and 10 percent of the royalties.

Two weeks later, another company offered the man a $3,500-per-acre bonus and 25 percent of the royalties, showing him a loophole that would allow him to void the initial contract.

Two years ago, residents in one Parker County neighborhood were bullied into signing leases with a $500-per-acre signing bonus and 12 percent of the royalties.

According to members of the neighborhood’s home-owner’s association, Devon Energy representatives told residents $500 was the best they were ever going to get. If the residents didn’t sign that week, they would simply drill around them.

This threat is very real for the person standing alone, but there is power in numbers.

A handful of Fort Worth neighborhoods organized and stuck together, demanding more for their rights. They have been very successful.

People in the organized neighborhoods who held out are now being offered up to a $15,000-per-acre signing bonus and 25 percent of the royalties, five times the original bonus offer of $3,000.

A financial analyst told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently that it made good economic sense for these companies to pay such a large signing bonus because they would still make a hefty profit off production.

So how many people have been paid a fraction of what their mineral leases were worth?

There is no government oversight regarding pricing on these leases, and there is not a wealth of concrete information available.

One estimate from a consumer watchdog group circulated at a recent homeowners association meeting claims that as much as 90 percent of Texans who have signed mineral rights leases up to this point have not received a fair amount.

An individual’s best hope at getting a fair price is communicating with his or her neighbors and organizing.

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