Powder River Basin Oil and Gas Industry

The Powder River Basin, or PRB, has a fascinating natural history and is a leading source of coal in the United States. One of the most resource-rich areas in the United States, the Powder River Basin is home to large reserves of coal, natural gas, crude oil and more. The Powder River Basin is approximately 120 miles wide and 200 miles long.

What Is the Powder River Basin?

The Powder River Basin in Wyoming refers to lower-elevation lands that reach from the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming to the Black Hills that sit on the Wyoming-South Dakota border. The Powder River Basin is home to the most extensive coal reserves in the U.S. Sixteen mines in the Powder River Basin produce approximately 43% of coal in the United States.

In the 1970s, the Powder River Basin coal boom began, attracting the attention of many coal mining companies. As the coal mining boom continued to develop, energy developers learned how to extract and market coalbed methane, a natural gas found in underground coal seams. From the 1990s to the early 2000s, companies drilled more than 20,000 wells on public and private land that the federal government owns the mineral rights to.

Oil and Gas in the Powder River Basin

The Powder River Basin is a geologic structure known for its extensive coal reserves and rolling grasslands. It is also a topographic basin drained by the Bighorn River, Tongue River, Little Missouri River, Powder River, Cheyenne River and their tributaries. The area plays an essential role in mining, developing and distributing coal and other minerals.

Geological History of the Powder River Basin

The thickest section of the Powder River Basin comprises Cretaceous rocks with a regressive sequence of largely sandstones and marine shales. Approximately 60 million years ago, plants began forming peat beds, which later became compressed into layers of coal. The basin’s current shape developed from the rise of the Hartville uplift and the Black Hills uplift.

The land here was once at the bottom of a shallow sea, which collected organic materials for millions of years. Over time, this material turned into sub-bituminous coal that is lower in polluting sulfur than that found elsewhere. Most coal deposits in Wyoming formed during the Cretaceous and Paleogene periods.

As the climate shifted, it became dry and cool, and erosion eventually left only a few feet of land covering the coal seam in the Powder River Basin. This closeness to the surface makes the coal in this area much easier and less expensive to mine.

The Coal Boom of the 1970s

While the initial coal boom in the basin began in the 1970s, it didn’t become the nation’s leading source of coal until the 1990 amendment of the Clean Air Act. This amendment required lower sulfur levels, leading the basin’s sub-bituminous coal and low-sulfur bituminous to become the dominant fuel for generating heat, power and electricity. The federal government owns most of the land within the basin, and the Bureau of Land Management leases it out.

Most coal from the Powder River Basin supports the country’s electric power generation. In the 1990s, many coal power plants switched to sub-bituminous coal because of its relatively low sulfur content. Today, the Powder River Basin has yielded more coal than the Appalachian basins.

Powder River Basin Oil and Gas

In addition to coal, there are extensive petroleum deposits throughout the Powder River Basin, including the Salt Creek Oil Field. The gas and oil developed from rocks ranging from the Pennsylvanian to Tertiary periods. The majority comes from the sandstones within the thicker portions of Cretaceous rocks. Oil and gas production has seen a resurgence, primarily in the Wyoming section that has historically been the source of the basin’s oil.

Powder River Basin Oil Companies and Operators

Numerous Powder River Basin oil fields operate throughout the region, providing various services from mining operations to mineral and royalty acquisitions. Rocking WW Minerals is a leading Powder River Basin operator that works across the oil- and gas-producing regions of Wyoming and North Dakota.

Rocking WW Minerals

At Rocking WW Minerals, our experts have spent their careers on the exploration and production side of the oil and gas industry. We focus on acquiring mineral and royalty interests in the surrounding Rockies regions. If you own property in Wyoming or the Dakotas, you may also own the rights to the minerals beneath the surface. The good news is that it’s possible to sell these rights and still maintain ownership of your above-ground property via a severed estate or a royalty arrangement.

Consider these benefits of selling your mineral rights.

  • Lump-sum payment: One primary advantage of selling mineral rights is that you will receive a lump-sum compensation, which can be beneficial for a large purchase. With time, depleting gas or oil interests may lose their value. Selling mineral rights allows you to benefit from your royalties’ current value and capitalize on today’s market prices.
  • Facilitate estate management: Another benefit of selling your mineral rights is simplifying the estate management process. If you are liquidating or consolidating an estate, it can be tricky, expensive and time-consuming to transition your assets to your heirs. Selling your mineral rights and distributing cash assets is a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage your estate.
  • Reduce uncertainty of future royalty streams: Many mineral rights owners face long-term uncertainty surrounding the value and benefits of holding onto mineral rights. Because these royalties’ value is not within your control, it can make financial planning more challenging to navigate. Selling your mineral rights and royalties is an effective and reliable way to benefit from these financial assets.
  • Lower taxes: The owners of mineral rights are often subject to several taxes, making these assets less valuable. Selling these mineral rights can reduce the need for you to keep track of account data and prepare various accounting statements and tax returns.

Premier Mineral and Royalty Acquisition Company

At Rocking WW Minerals, we are proud to offer reliable, fair and accurate mineral valuations driven by engineering, geology and drill timing. Our team of experts is pleased to maintain genuine relationships at every business level, including prominent executive teams and large ranchers. Our goal is to do what is right, not what is easy. We are a Wyoming-based company dedicated to keeping your minerals at home in the Cowboy State.

Get started with a free valuation today and contact us online or call 307-429-0093.

Mineral Rights Transfers Explained

The United States is one of only two countries that allow private individuals to own mineral rights. The term “mineral rights” refers to the ownership of underground resources like oil, silver, gold, copper, iron, natural gas and uranium. If you own mineral rights, you can search for, extract and sell these resources without authorization from the government.

Transferring mineral rights is a legal transaction. This action typically requires a real estate deed, will or lease that outlines the types of mineral rights to be transferred and to whom. If you’re thinking about transferring your mineral rights, read on to learn more about the process.

How to Transfer Mineral Rights

There are several steps involved in transferring mineral rights to another person or group.

1. Prove Your Ownership

Before you can transfer your mineral rights, you must prove that you own the rights. Providing proof may require in-depth research into the ownership history of the rights, known as the chain of title. Many people use a lawyer or title company to help with this process.

2. Get Help From an Attorney

Once you’ve determined you own the mineral rights and have decided what you want to do with them, a qualified attorney can help you make the transfer. A lawyer can advise you on the best way to transfer your mineral rights and draft the legal documents you’ll need.

3. Transfer Your Mineral Rights

You can legally transfer your mineral rights in three different ways:

  • Transfer by deed: You can sell your mineral rights to another person or company by deed.
  • Transfer by will: You can specify who you want to inherit your mineral rights in your will.
  • Transfer by lease: You can lease mineral rights to a third party through a lease agreement.

Do Mineral Rights Transfer With Property?

Mineral rights do not necessarily transfer with property. Typically, a property conveyance (sale) transfers the rights of both the surface land and the minerals underneath until the mineral rights are sold. Mineral rights are conveyed — meaning transferred to a new owner — through a deed.

At the time of the initial conveyance, the property deed will include the separation of the surface and mineral rights. Subsequent land deeds will not reference the mineral rights transfer. This process means that when you buy a property, you may not be able to determine if you own mineral rights from your deed. Instead, you’ll likely need to hire a lawyer or title company to perform a mineral rights search to determine if you’re the owner.

Sell Your Minerals to Rocking WW Minerals, LLC

If you’re thinking about selling your mineral rights, Rocking WW Minerals, LLC is a company you can trust. We’re one of the few mineral and royalty acquisition companies in Wyoming. We’re intimately familiar with the region’s land, minerals and people, and we form genuine relationships with all our customers. When you sell to us, you can rest assured that we’ll keep your minerals local.

We also eliminate the middleman to give you the best prices. Our in-house technical team provides highly accurate valuations, and we have the fastest turnaround rates on the market, with closes completed in one to ten days.

If you’re ready to sell, submit your request for a free valuation or contact us for more information.

Net Mineral Acres vs Net Royalty Acres

As a mineral rights owner, it is essential for you to know how to calculate your net mineral and/or net royalty acres. These figures are required in order to estimate the full value of your property, which will likely influence your decision to sell.

If you are looking to sell or want to know more about your mineral rights, finding out the value and number of net acres is a significant first step. No matter when you decide to sell, understanding your interests will inevitably be helpful to you later down the road, including confirming you are being paid royalties correctly on a well.

Learn more about the difference between net mineral acres and net royalty acres, as well as how to calculate mineral rights value per acre.

Are you interested in selling your minerals or mineral royalties? Contact us today for a free valuation. 

What Are Net Mineral Acres?

A land tract’s gross acreage is different from your net mineral acres. Often, the gross acreage is divided amongst a few different people or entities. That is where net mineral acres come in to give you a better idea of your actual average.

Net mineral acres (NMA) are the total acreage owned out of the gross amount. Because the gross acreage often splits between multiple parties, the NMA represents the share of land you have rights and ownership over. The percent you own out of the gross tract acreage is called your Mineral Interest.

How to Calculate Net Mineral Acres

To calculate the NMA, you need the gross number of acres and the percentage of your mineral interest. To complete the calculation, simply multiply the gross acreage by your mineral interest. For example, if you owned 25% interest on the minerals under a 400-acre tract of land, you would have 100 NMA.

The net mineral acres formula would be: 400 * 0.25 = 100 NMA

With this formula, you can calculate the number of net acres every party owns in the land tract if you know their mineral interest. Understanding your NMA figure is the first step to calculating your net royalty acres, which is vital for selling or evaluating your mineral rights.

bison on wyoming landscapeWhat Are Net Royalty Acres?

Net royalty acres are the amount of money you can receive per acre. This term is most often used by mineral and royalty buyers when determining the property’s total potential value before making a transaction.

This step is where the NMA comes in. If you go to sell your property without knowing your NMA, you could over- or underestimate your potential earnings. You can calculate your NRA if you know your royalty percentage and NMA.

How to Calculate Net Royalty Acres

The industry currently has two ways of defining and calculating NRA, which we like to call the “old” way and the “modern” way.

Old Way:

The old way was first defined in the 1950s when a ⅛ royalty was the standard rate. To clear up confusion surrounding some royalty assignments that occurred in the 1940s, a Mississippi court came to the conclusion that 1 NMA = 1 NRA leased at ⅛. Because ⅛ is no longer the going lease rate, the industry has had to adapt this definition in order to “normalize” a higher royalty back to what it would translate into at ⅛.

NRA Normalized to ⅛ Example:
  • You have 100 NMA leased at 18.75%, and an offer to purchase for $100,000
  • (100 NMA * 8) * 18.75% royalty = 150 NRA to 1/8
  • Price per NRA = $100,000/150 NRA to 1/8 = $666

Because ⅛ is no longer a “normal” lease rate, the formula used above can cause confusion and miscommunication, inflating numbers so that your net royalty acres actually appear higher than the number of net mineral acres you own.

Modern Way:

The modern way of calculating NRA (sometimes called NRA to 100%) is actually the first step in getting to your wellbore interest, which is your share of actual production from a given well. Calculating NRA to 100% allows for a better understanding of the value your minerals as they are extracted.

Modern Example:
  • If you had 100 NMA leased at 18.75%, and an offer to purchase for $100,000
  • 100 NMA * 18.75% royalty = 18.75 NRA
  • Price per NRA = $100,000/18.75 NRA = $5,333
  • If you want to take it a step further and calculate your interest in a wellbore, just divide this NRA by the drill spacing unit (“DSU”). Example: 18.75 NRA/1280 DSU = .015 wellbore interest.

If your minerals are currently unleased, calculate your NRA using the royalty rate you could lease your minerals for on the open market, which often varies from basin to basin.

Why Do I Need to Know My NRA?

There are a few reasons to know your NRA before you meet with a mineral buyer. Knowing what your land is worth can help you get the best deal. When working with multiple buyers to determine a price, having a baseline of value can simplify the process.

If you can’t determine the value, and the transaction is based on the NRA, make sure the terms are explicitly stated in the agreement.

Net Mineral Acres vs. Net Royalty Acres

Net mineral acres and net royalty acres have similar names, but they define two very different aspects of your property. NMA can explain the physical amount of land relative to the interest rate, but it cannot tell you how much your property is worth. NRA can calculate that land’s worth in dollar values.

The other main difference between NMA and NRA is how they are used to sell and purchase mineral rights. In this case, the NMA leads you to the NRA, which is the key price when determining a land tract’s total potential royalty value.

Selling your mineral rights is a big decision. If you are considering selling your minerals, knowing both your NMA and NRA can help you get the best deal available. Working with a company can simplify the process significantly and help you get the most from your property.

When you want to learn more about selling from a trusted company, Rocking WW Minerals can assist you. We can help you discover your property’s value while saving you time and effort. We streamline the process so you can understand your property value without waiting on an outside valuation team.

Sell Your Minerals With Rocking WW Minerals, LLC

When it’s time to sell your mineral rights or mineral royalties, you want to make sure you find someone who will give you a good price without sacrificing trust. Selling to a long-term buyer can help you feel confident in your decision and keep your minerals in Wyoming.

Rocking WW Minerals, LLC is a local company providing a market for mineral asset owners to liquidize with no hassle. We keep your minerals local to support the state’s industry. Rather than taking your minerals and leaving, our local professionals help you get compensated while safely extracting minerals for local use.

We eliminate the middleman and give you the highest price possible. Our in-house technical team can quickly evaluate your property with no outsourcing required to provide a better estimate. We have the fastest turnaround rate on the market, with our closes completed between one and 10 days.

If you are ready to sell your minerals or mineral royalties, fill out our free valuation form to start, or contact us online for more information. Keep your minerals in the West with Rocking WW Minerals.

sell or lease your mineral rights in wyoming

Cowboy driving cattle

Mineral Rights in Wyoming

In the U.S., private individuals can own subsurface minerals, allowing people to sell, extract and explore an area for minerals without government approval. Owning land does not necessarily mean you own the minerals beneath your property’s surface. Sometimes, mineral rights are sold separately from the land’s property rights — known as a split estate.

This is also the case in the Cowboy State of Wyoming. Split estates are prevalent in Wyo because of the land’s natural resources. Wyoming is rich in natural oil and gas deposits, making mineral ownership in the region especially lucrative and desirable.

Are you interested in selling your minerals or mineral royalties? Contact us today for a free valuation. 

Wyoming Oil and Gas Resources

Wyoming contains a number of oil and gas fields and basins that produce a significant amount of hydrocarbons. These basins spread throughout the state – in fact, 21 out of 23 counties in Wyoming are oil and gas producers!

Altogether, Wyoming contains around 943 million barrels of oil, which translates to about 2.4% of U.S. oil reserves. Additionally, Wyoming contains an excess of dry natural gas, equal to about 4.9% of dry natural gas in the U.S.

brown house on wyoming landscape

Wyoming Oil and Gas Industry

Wyoming ranked eighth nationally in crude oil and natural gas production in 2019, making the oil and gas industry the biggest in the state. Around 20,000 Wyoming residents work in the oil and gas industry, contributing $1.67 billion to the state government in 2019.

Out of the hundreds of holes drilled in Wyoming, 50% found oil, and 37% found gas. According to these figures, the Wyoming oil and gas industry is the most profitable sector in the state. As a result, owning mineral rights in Wyoming is especially lucrative. Mineral ownership has previously led to clashes between landowners and mineral rights owners over the years because of the potential profit margins.

Most Important Regions in Wyoming

In Wyoming, certain regions contain more gas and oil than others which can be traced back to ancient shallow seas. Some areas in Wyoming that are rich in oil and gas include:

  • Powder River Basin: Although known more commonly for its coal deposits (it supplies about 40% of coal in the U.S), the “PRB” has become a significant horizontal oil play and is home to some of the US’ top operators.
  • The Bighorn Basin: This basin is in north-central Wyoming. It is a significant petroleum source, as it has produced more than 1.4 billion barrels of oil since the 20th century.
  • Wind River Basin: This basin is located in central Wyoming, and is home to Wyoming’s first oil well (Mike Murphy #1), containing over 60 oil and gas fields.
  • Greater Green River Basin: This basin is in southwestern Wyoming and boasts 30 different natural gas fields, namely the Jonah Field, Pinedale Anticline, Washakie Basin, Moxa Arch.
    If you own mineral rights in one of these regions, they may be valuable on the open market. A mineral rights valuation will help you determine how much your minerals are worth.

How to Find Mineral Rights Ownership in Wyoming

If you’re a Wyoming resident and don’t know if you own your mineral rights underneath your land, let us help! At Rocking WW Minerals, LLC, we specialize in the mineral industry, so you can count on us to dig up any information about your mineral rights.

To determine if you have mineral rights in Wyoming, you will need to conduct a mineral rights search. If you are a Wyoming mineral rights owner and want to know how much your minerals are worth, you can contact us for a free valuation.

Keep your minerals in Wyoming and fill out one of our free mineral rights search forms to start your search today!

Types of Mineral Interests and Royalty Interests

The United States is just one of a handful of countries that allows citizens to own the minerals, oil, gas and rocks found beneath the land’s surface. In most countries, anything located under the ground is the government’s property. If someone living in one of the countries that don’t allow citizens to own the minerals below the surface wanted to sell or extract the material, they’d have to get permission from their government.

In the U.S., landowners have full enjoyment of their property, including what’s above and below the surface, due to an ownership structure called fee simple ownership. They have the option of splitting their estate, which severs the rights to the minerals below ground from the ownership rights of what’s on the surface. If you are curious about the process of selling your mineral rights, it helps to become familiar with the terms used in this industry and the various types of mineral and royalty interests available.

Are you interested in selling your minerals or mineral royalties? Contact us today for a free valuation. 

Types of Mineral Interests

The different types of mineral interests determine how much sway an owner has over the land and how much they are entitled to receive from the extraction or sale of their minerals. Below, we’ll explore a few different types in more detail and outline how mineral royalty rates and payments work in various situations.

landscape with definition of mineral interest

Mineral Interest

Someone who has the mineral interest in a property has the full executive rights to the minerals found on, in or beneath the land. They can explore the minerals, develop them and arrange for mineral production. They can receive royalties, rental payments and lease bonuses for the minerals found on the property.

A company or individual can acquire a property’s mineral interest from a fee simple owner, thereby severing the minerals from the surface. In this instance, the original owner can retain full control of the surface while a completely separate individual or company owns and manages the mineral rights. In separating the minerals from the surface, the mineral ownership takes on a life of its own with its own chain of title through the years.

An entity or individual can also own just a portion of the mineral interest. When an owner possesses less than 100% of the mineral interest, they own a fractional mineral interest. Individuals who inherit the mineral interest from their parents or grandparents might end up owning fractional interests as well.

For example, a parent might leave their three children equal shares of the mineral interest. Each child owns 33% of the mineral rights. When those children pass away, they leave the right to their own offspring, further fractioning the mineral interest.

Having a mineral interest in a property entitles an individual or entity to the following:

  • The right to receive a leasing bonus.
  • The right to delay rental payments.
  • The right to execute a lease and transfer the rights to the lessee.
  • The rights to royalties from production.
  • The right to produce, develop or explore minerals beneath the surface.

Another thing worth mentioning about mineral interest is that it is stronger than surface interest. Someone with a mineral interest in a property has the right to use the surface as needed to extract, develop or explore the minerals beneath. This is why minerals are commonly referred to as the “dominant estate.”

Working Interest

A mineral interest owner can enter into a lease with a company that wants to drill wells on the land for mineral extraction. The lease gives the oil or gas company a working interest in the property. With a working interest, the company has the right to develop, produce or explore minerals found beneath the surface (and pay for it all).

The entity that holds the working interest takes care of the expenses associated with drilling and extraction. Their portion of the proceeds is equal to the production revenues less all the royalties that are paid out to the mineral owners. If they pay an average royalty of 20% to royalty owners, this may seem like a lot. However, the 80% of production revenues they receive has to cover the millions of dollars they spent drilling, completing, and producing the well. Many folks don’t realize that the oil companies are operating in the red until a well “pays out,” which is the point when they’ve accrued enough revenue to break even on the drilling and completion expenses. A well usually takes years to payout, and if an operator has bad timing with oil prices, sometimes they never do. Luckily, the royalty owners get paid along the way, even if a well never pays out!

Non-Executive Mineral Interest

A non-executive mineral interest (NEMI) is similar to a full-fledged mineral interest. The most significant difference is that an individual or entity that holds a NEMI does not have the ability to enter a lease. Instead, someone with a NEMI can earn lease payouts and royalties. Usually, the size of the royalty payments and lease payouts is determined by the primary mineral interest owner.

It’s common for people who inherit mineral rights to receive a NEMI for oil and gas. A landowner might also decide to cede their executive rights to the minerals when they sell the land’s surface but wish to retain a non-executive stake in the mineral interest.

Royalty Interest

After signing a lease with an oil or gas company, a royalty interest will be calculated in any wells that are drilled and produced using the royalty percentage set forth in the lease (“lease rate”). This royalty interest gives the owner a portion of the drilling or extraction revenue without paying for the extraction process themselves.

Often, the royalty interest is described on the lease as a percentage or fraction. For example, let’s assume an owner signed a lease for a 20% royalty. This royalty isn’t for 20% of all oil and gas pulled out of the ground; it must be proportionately reduced to the number of net mineral acres contributed an owner’s lease against the drilling unit as a whole. For example, if you leased 10 net mineral acres at 20% and the operator successfully drilled a 2-mile well, there will be around 1280 net leasehold acres sharing in that well (the “drill spacing unit”). This means your net royalty interest is 20% * (10 NMA/1280).

The royalty interest exists for as long as the company that leases the land continues to drill. Once the drilling stops, the interest is gone. At that point, the mineral interest holder can lease working interest to a different company. In some cases, a mineral rights owner might have several leases going simultaneously, depending on each one’s clauses and terms.

Mineral rights owners might decide to sell royalty interest to a separate party, retaining the executive rights and mineral interest. Two examples of royalty interest that mineral rights owners may take advantage of include non-participating royalty interest and overriding royalty interest.

Mineral Interest vs. Working Interest

Simply put, the person who takes the lease from an owner (“Lessee”) is the working interest owner. They take on all the risks and pay all the expenses of drilling and completing well(s), but their right to explore for and develop minerals ends once a lease terminates pursuant to its terms. The mineral interest owner is the person granting the lease to a company or agent thereof (“Lessor”). Throughout everything, the mineral interest holder has the full rights to the property and full ownership of the minerals that might exist there.

What Is a Royalty Interest in Oil and Gas?

What is the definition of royalty interest in oil and gas? When someone has a royalty interest in oil or gas, they own a part of a resource or have a right to some of the revenue the resource produces. The owner of a royalty interest doesn’t have any responsibility for the cost of operating wells or drilling for gas or oil.types of oil and gas royalty interests with charts

Three types of oil and gas royalty interests exist:

1. Ownership Interest

An ownership interest might be the most common type of royalty interest. Someone with an ownership interest owns the property, as well as the rights to what’s beneath the surface of the land. A company that wishes to drill into the land to extract any oil or gas found beneath it has to take a lease from the mineral owner before they can begin operations.

Usually, the company offers to give the owner a royalty payment. The payment might include a sign-on bonus along with the royalty interest payment. The lease rate the owner receives depends largely on (i) the competition for leases, (ii) perceived risk (i.e. an unproven area will fetch lower royalty in exchange for the risk taken on by the operator), (iii) oil price, and (iv) long-term well economics.

A landowner can sell part or all of their royalty interest if they need or want to.

2. Non-Participating Royalty Interest

Like an ownership interest, a non-participating royalty interest (NPRI) is a non-cost bearing interest in oil and gas production. If a landowner wants to sell their property but maintain a stake in the payments for the oil or gas beneath the surface, they might reserve an NPRI, allowing them to keep a stake in the profits. Similar to when minerals are severed from the surface, NPRIs are essentially royalties severed off the minerals.

Non-participating royalty interests are called so because unlike the mineral owner, they do not get to participate in lease signing bonuses, rental payments, or the lease negotiations themselves; they just enjoy the production proceeds that are derived therefrom. An example of an NPRI would be if a mineral owner were to carve off 3% NPRI from their negotiated lease rate. Referring back to the 20% lease example under the Royalty Interest section above, that would mean the mineral owner now gets a proportionate share of production based on a 17% royalty, while the NPRI owner gets 3%.

In some cases, a landowner might decide to sell an NPRI when they need cash. If a landowner needs several thousand dollars to do something like make a big purchase, cover medical bills or complete a renovation, they can enter into an agreement with an individual or company. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the mineral owner can offer the individual or business a percentage of the royalties on the land.

When production begins on the land, the person or company who bought the NPRI will begin receiving payment from the operator based on the percentage defined in the royalty deed.

3. Overriding Royalty Interest (ORRI)

Remember working interest owners (“Lessors”)? Well let’s bring it back to them. ORRIs are additional burdens created on a lease by a Lessor, usually at the time when they sell a lease to another oil company. For example, if a landman took an 18.75% lease from you, they can sell it to another oil company while reserving a 1.25% ORRI. This doesn’t subtract from what the mineral owner gets paid, it just adds another royalty burden to what the oil company has to pay. Now they’re on the hook to pay 18.75% to the mineral owner, and another 1.25% to the landman. Unlike mineral and royalty interests, ORRIs run with the lease and not the land. That means they’re in effect for only so long as the lease is in effect – they expire when the lease expires.

Historically, it’s been typical for geologists or landmen to receive payment for work with ORRIs rather than cash day-rates. When the wells came in good, this was a pretty sweet deal! When the wells were dry holes, the geologists and landmen went back to their day jobs.

Are You Considering Leasing Your Minerals?

How much are the minerals beneath your land worth? If you’re interested in leasing your minerals or selling a royalty interest in them, Rocking WW Minerals can provide you with an accurate valuation backed up by honesty, integrity and transparency.

Our company is rooted in cowboy ethics, meaning we believe it’s important to do what’s right, not what’s easy. We specialize in mineral royalties in Wyoming and North Dakota and pride ourselves on using the three most important factors — drill timing, engineering and geology — when making a mineral valuation. Learn more about our process and get started with a free valuation today.oil well and oil worker

Mineral Rights & Royalties Tax Guide

Mineral Rights Tax Guide

Whenever you earn income, the tax agency typically wants to receive its cut. That’s also true when you sell the mineral rights to your land or lease the rights and receive royalty payments. The taxes you might owe on your land’s minerals depends on where in the U.S. your land is and what you decide to do with your mineral rights.

The income you earn might be taxed like regular income or considered a capital gain. Learn more about how the sale of mineral rights is taxed and what options are available to reduce your tax obligations.

Are you considering selling your minerals or mineral royalties? Contact us today for a free valuation. 

Are Mineral Rights and Royalties Taxable?

Any income you earn from the sale or lease of your land’s mineral rights is taxable. Income, severance and ad valorem taxes are some of the taxes you might need to pay. Each type comes from a different entity. For example, income taxes are usually paid to the state or federal government and, in some cases, both. Ad valorem taxes are usually paid to the county and severance taxes to the state.

Ad Valorem Tax

Ad valorem is Latin for “according to the value.” The amount of the tax is based on the assessed value of a property or item. A common example of an ad valorem tax is a real estate property tax. When you own a home or land, the real estate’s assessed value determines the amount of taxes you pay. The tax due on land worth $100,000 will be less than the tax due on land worth $200,000 if the real estate is taxed at the same rate.

In Wyoming, ad valorem tax is a county-level tax. Each county in the state has its own rate, which can vary slightly from year to year. As of 2018, the average ad valorem tax statewide was 6.9%. To charge an ad valorem tax on oil and gas or minerals, the county needs to assess the minerals’, oil’s or gas’s fair market value on the property. Usually, the tax is only due when there is active production on a property.

Mineral Rights and Royalties Tax

State and Federal Tax

The income you earn from mineral royalties or the sale of mineral rights is often subject to federal and state taxes. The type of tax you need to pay depends on the type of income you earn.

Is the sale of mineral rights a capital gain? If you sell the mineral rights, you might have to pay a capital gains tax on the sale profit. If you purchased the minerals, the profit is based on the difference between the value or price you paid for the mineral rights when you made the purchase and the amount you sold the rights for. If you inherited the minerals, the profit is based on the difference between the value of the mineral rights when you inherited them and the amount you sold the rights for.

The tax rate depends on what your income bracket is and how long you had the asset. If you owned the mineral rights for less than one year before deciding to sell them, the tax rate would be the same as your income tax.

If you owned the asset for more than one year, you qualify for the long-term capital gains tax rate. The rate for long-term capital gains is based on your income level. If you earn less than $80,000, your capital gains rate is 0%. The rate is 15% for single people earning between $80,000 and $441,450. Those who earn more than $441,451 each year pay a rate of 20%.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), income taxes on mineral rights royalties work a bit differently. Capital gains taxes apply to the sale of mineral rights. If you retain your rights and lease them, therefore earning a royalty on the production, the royalty amount is taxed as regular income. Income tax rates tend to be higher than capital gain tax rates.

Depending on the state you live in, you might need to pay income tax on your mineral royalty earnings, too. Income tax rates vary wildly from state to state, with some states charging a progressive tax, similar to the federal tax structure. Some charge a flat rate. Others, such as Wyoming, have no income tax at all. North Dakota has a progressive tax that ranges from 1.1% to 2.9% of income.

Severance Tax

What is a severance tax for oil and gas? Thirty-four states collect a severance tax on oil and gas extraction, among them North Dakota and Wyoming. Because North Dakota and Wyoming are mineral-rich states, the severance tax often proves to be a significant revenue source for each state. In 2017, 22% of North Dakota’s revenue and 8% of Wyoming’s came from severance taxes.

Severance tax rates vary based on the state and the extracted material. In Wyoming, the severance tax rate for minerals such as limestone, jade or clay is 2%, while natural gas or oil is 6%. In North Dakota, the severance tax is imposed in place of a property tax on land that produces oil or gas. The gross production tax for oil is 5%, while the gross production tax for gas is adjusted each year.

Taxes on the Sale of Mineral Rights

You might decide to sell your mineral rights for various reasons, such as the need for an immediate influx of cash or a desire to diversify your investment portfolio. It’s important to understand that if you sell your mineral rights, the tax situation will be different than if you kept the rights and leased them or earned a royalty from them.

list covering tax implications of selling mineral rightsTax Implications of Selling Mineral Rights

Selling your mineral rights creates a different tax situation than earning a royalty. The IRS views the profits from the sale of mineral rights as a capital gain, not income. To figure out how much you might need to pay as a capital gains tax, you need to figure out your cost basis in the mineral rights. The cost basis is the original price or value of the asset — in this case, mineral rights.

Figuring out the cost basis can be complicated, depending on how you acquired the rights in the first place. Generally speaking, the IRS considers an owner’s mineral rights cost basis to be zero, with three distinct exemptions:

  • The cost included a specific amount for mineral rights.
  • The minerals and surface were valued separately during the real estate tax valuation that determined the seller’s basis.
  • There was ample evidence of the minerals’ value on the date of acquisition.

Cost basis can also differ depending on whether you purchased the property or inherited mineral rights. Inheriting property often includes a step-up in basis, leading to a reduction in capital gains tax. Many owners do not know what the value of their minerals were at the time of inheritance, so don’t worry if you fall into this category. Professional mineral appraisers like Rocking WW Minerals, LLC can easily calculate historic values for you. Quick tip: if you inherited your interest via a probated estate, look through the probate documents for an estimated value.

A few examples can help you see how to calculate capital gains and figure out what you might owe in taxes. Let’s say your income qualifies you for the 15% capital gains tax rate. You purchased the land and have a basis of $0 in it. Five years later, you decide to sell the mineral rights for $250,000. Since your basis is $0, your capital gain is $250,000. You would owe a capital gains tax of $37,500.

In another example, let’s say you inherited mineral rights and have a cost basis of $75,000. Five years later, you sell the mineral rights for the same amount, $250,000. To figure out your capital gains, you need to subtract your basis ($75,000) from the sale price ($250,000). Your capital gains are $175,000. Taxed at a 15% rate, you’d owe $26,250.

How to Report Sale of Mineral Rights on Tax Return

If you have capital gains from the sale of mineral rights, you’ll need to report them on your federal income tax return for the year you made the sale. The purchaser of the mineral rights might send you a tax form, such as a Form 1099, but they might not. Keep records of your basis and the sale price to report your capital gains at tax time accurately.

To report the sale, you’ll need to complete two additional forms when you file Form 1040. The first is Form 8949, which you use to tally up all of your transactions that resulted in capital gains or losses during the year. You’ll need to complete Schedule D to report your total capital gains. In this case, the tax treatment of selling mineral rights is similar to other capital gains.

Figuring out how to complete the tax forms and accurately report your earnings from the mineral rights sale can be complicated. It’s a good idea to work with a tax professional to ensure you are reporting the correct amounts and avoid paying more taxes than you owe.

person doing taxes on mineral royalties

Taxes on Mineral Royalties

Instead of selling your mineral rights, you’ve decided to lease them and are receiving royalty payments. Mineral and oil royalties tax treatment is different from taxes on the sale of mineral rights. Royalties typically get taxed like your regular income.

Oil and Gas Royalties Tax Treatment

If you lease your land to an oil or gas company and they begin drilling, you’ll start getting royalty checks. The checks’ amount depends on the income produced by the minerals or oils and the lease terms. For example, you might earn royalties of 25% of the production income.

You might earn more royalties at the start of drilling when there’s a high volume of oil or gas produced, and considerably less as the process continues and the supply diminishes. How much you earn in royalties and how much your total income determines the tax rate you pay.

For example, let’s say you earn a steady $5,000 per month in oil royalties over one year. The royalties are your only source of income for the year, totaling $60,000. The IRS treats the royalty income like any other income from employment or a business. You’d be responsible for paying tax on it based on your tax bracket. If you are single and only claim the standard tax deduction, your tax rate would be 22%.

Keep in mind that the royalty payments might be just a portion of the income you receive for letting a company drill on your land. If you get lease payments from the business or have gotten a lease bonus, you need to report that income as well. Rental income gets taxed at the same rate as your other income.

How to Report Oil and Gas Royalties on Tax Return

You should report royalty and rent payments on your federal income tax return. You’ll need to complete Schedule E to report rent or royalty payments or both. Schedule E also enables you to deduct expenses from your rent and royalty income. Your expenses might include attorney fees, surveying costs and the costs of creating contracts. It’s a good idea to work with a tax professional to make sure you claim the expenses you’re eligible for and avoid paying more taxes than required.

If you purchased the land intending to lease it out to mineral companies, you might be able to claim depletion, which is the cost of your initial investment divided by the potential value of the land’s minerals. You’ll report depletion on Schedule E, too.

It’s worth noting that you might need to make estimated tax payments each quarter depending on your income and tax obligation. Usually, you need to pay estimated tax payments if you expect to owe more than $1,000 when you file your return. Another option is to increase your withholding so you don’t owe additional taxes when you file your return if you have an employer that withholds tax from your paycheck.

1031 Mineral Rights Exchange

If you expect to owe capital gains taxes on the sale of your mineral rights, you could defer those taxes thanks to section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). You can defer taxes by exchanging your property for a “like-kind” property.

If you sell your mineral rights and use the proceeds to purchase something similar within 45 days — and what qualifies as “similar” will likely be broader than you expect — you can defer the payment of capital gains taxes on the proceeds of the first sale, since you used the money to buy something similar. Another way to look at a 1031 exchange is as a property swap.

To report the exchange and qualify for the tax deferment, you need to file Form 8224 with your tax return for the year. It’s essential to dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s when doing a 1031 exchange, so it’s a smart idea to find a tax pro to help you out.

sell or lease your mineral rights in wyoming

Sell or Lease Your Mineral Rights in Wyoming and North Dakota

If you’re interested in selling the mineral rights to your land or leasing a royalty interest, work with a company that lives by the Code of the West and focuses on doing the right thing — which isn’t the same as the easy thing. Rocking WW Minerals, LLC is a local company committed to keeping your minerals in Wyoming.

We practice a buy-and-hold method, meaning we won’t flip or sell your minerals to the next highest bidder. To learn more about our process and what makes us different, get in touch today for a free valuation.

wyoming or north dakota landscape

How to Sell Your Mineral Rights or Royalties

If you’re like many property owners in Wyoming or North Dakota, you may own valuable mineral rights consisting of oil or natural gas that may have been in your family for generations. In many cases, these rights are separate from the “above-ground” real estate, a situation known as a severed or split estate. Thus, it’s possible to sell your rights and still maintain the remainder of your property.

Some mineral owners may also hold a royalty interest. Royalties are payments the owner receives from the value of oil and gas production on a property. In a typical royalty arrangement, the producer pays the property owner a percentage of the generated revenues. The royalty interest owner typically does not pay for the drilling or other production costs.

Are you interested in selling your minerals or mineral royalties? Contact us today for a free valuation. 

Why Sell Mineral Rights?

If you own mineral rights, you may face a difficult decision — should you sell or keep them? The choice doesn’t always come down to dollars and cents, especially for long-term owners who consider the rights valuable family heirlooms. It’s often implied, if not stated, that the minerals must remain in the family and never be sold to outside investors.

While the decision to offer mineral rights for sale can be painful, it can provide numerous advantages for the seller. The most obvious benefit is that you can receive a lump sum cash payment to use as you see fit. You can pay off debt, finance your child’s education, fund your retirement or invest the money.

Selling the rights before you die can also facilitate the estate settlement process. Transferring mineral rights to your children or heirs upon your death can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if they must pass through the probate process. Selling the rights and distributing the assets to the people you choose while you’re still alive can offer a less complicated and more cost-effective solution.

Mineral rights can also cost owners plenty in taxes. Depending on your financial situation, it may not be worth the time or money to hang on to the rights and make selling them a more viable strategy.

grand tetons in wyoming

Why Sell a Mineral Royalty Interest?

If you’re receiving mineral royalties, you’ve probably experienced the uncertainty of these revenue streams. If you own producing lands, you’re at the mercy of the production company’s operational decisions, which can increase or decrease the monthly production volumes attributable to your royalty. Another problem facing Wyoming mineral owners, in particular, is a scenario where operators have control of large swaths of acreage, with no near-term plans of development. If your lands are under one of these operator’s future drilling units, you may not see any royalty income for a decade or more.

However, the biggest benefit we see in selling mineral or royalty interests is the ability to diversify away from volatile commodity prices. Oil market fluctuations have always been unpredictable – the industry has always been cyclical. However, the advent of new technology has been our own worst friend when it comes to oil prices – we’ve gotten too good at producing oil, and in turn, have outpaced demand. Liquidating some or all of your mineral interests can give you the ability to divest in more stable long-term assets like bonds, index funds, or real estate to name a few.

How Do I Sell My Mineral Rights?

If you’ve decided that selling your mineral rights is in your family’s best interests, your best bet is to find a credible company that specializes in mineral rights acquisition. The entity you select should have an extensive track record of satisfied landowners within your state. It should also have a reputation for offering fair prices and a fast, seamless closing and settlement process.

In a typical scenario, the mineral rights buyer will present a basic purchase agreement and a mineral deed.

Warning Signs When Choosing a Mineral Rights Acquisition Company

As with any industry, there are “good” and “bad” mineral rights acquisition firms. It’s imperative to know the difference before signing on the dotted line. Some red flags to watch for include:

  • Bank draft traps. Some prospective buyers may attempt to entice you to sell to them by sending a check for a significant sum of money. If you deposit the draft, it legally binds you to sell your minerals and prevents you from negotiating a better deal.
  • Not offering fair market value. It’s not uncommon for unscrupulous buyers to float a price that’s far below fair market value, which is the value of your minerals dictated by the open market. It pays to do some research to determine what you should receive for the rights. Talk to others in your area who have already sold their rights and compare it to your offer.
  • No experience in your state. State laws and regulations regarding the sale of mineral rights vary widely. An out-of-state buyer may not understand the legal nuances, which can lead to potentially costly mistakes.

people reviewing financial statement

How Much Do Mineral Rights Sell For?

Buyers acquire mineral rights by the acre. The price per acre can change depending on whether the land is producing — oil and gas have already been extracted — or nonproducing — no existing or previous extractions. Other factors include location, current oil and gas prices, and well production levels.

How to Sell Mineral Royalties

If you own mineral royalties, the selling process is much the same as the rights to your minerals. Start by researching who buys mineral rights and royalties and locate potential buyers. Then, do your due diligence to ensure they’re reputable. Watch for out-of-state companies that make an immediate offer. In this scenario, it’s likely the buyer did little or no research and is attempting to sway you with an attractive price. In reality, the offer is probably far below fair market value.

How to Sell Mineral Rights in Wyoming & North Dakota

If you’re located in Wyoming or North Dakota, Sheridan-based Rocking WW Minerals, LLC is the best option for selling oil and gas mineral rights. As the only mineral rights acquisition company in Wyoming, we have a greater understanding of the rock, land and people than out-of-state buyers. Our in-house team of experienced geologists and drilling engineers uses best-in-class software platforms, resulting in highly accurate technical valuations.

When you partner with RWW, you’ll work with a company that adheres to a code of “cowboy ethics” — we build genuine relationships by doing what’s right, not what’s easy.

Contact RWW today to learn more about how to sell natural gas rights in Wyoming or North Dakota.