Government , Minerals Council

Minerals Council discusses digital databases and TERA agreements

The Osage Minerals Council is on a data hunt.

At the council’s July 17 meeting, the body voted 7-0 to formally revise its well record request letter to cast a wider net. Currently, it only extends to two categories of records held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The revision request would extend to non-proprietary records held by the Pawhuska Agency, such as completion reports and logs submitted by producers.

“We’re intending to provide all of that information,” Deputy Superintendent Richard Winlock said. “We just picked a point to start at and are digitizing the records.” 

Councilor Marsha Harlan was absent.

Meanwhile, several councilors acknowledged that they have received multiple questions regarding the possibility of pursuing a tribal energy resource agreement.

“There’s all sorts of speculation and misinformation out there,” Councilor Paul Revard said. “We need to tell our headright owners what is going on. Some of the stuff that’s been repeated back to me (by constituents) is erroneous. They deserve to know, as this affects each of them as much as it does each of us.”

First established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a TERA provides a tribe with the authority to review, approve and manage leases, right-of-way agreements and business agreements for energy development on tribal lands without the Secretary of the Interior’s approval.

The terms were overhauled in late 2018 to address tribal concerns regarding maintaining federal trust responsibilities while allowing tribes to better manage their properties. It also added funding provisions to cover the costs associated with tribes taking on duties once handled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

In June, Assistant Secretary of Interior for Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney proposed additional changes to bring the Code of Federal Regulations in line with the legislative amendments approved in 2018. As per the Department of the Interior, those changes must be enacted before the end of the year.

With the comment period open through Sept. 3 on Assistant Secretary Sweeney’s proposed changes, members of the Osage Minerals Council participated in a July 11 tribal consultation session at the Hard Rock Casino in Catoosa. Among the Osage-specific feedback offered was a request for explicit clarification that the mineral estate falls within the definition of “tribal lands” used in TERA legislation and regulations.

The council also had an unofficial meeting with members of the Osage Nation Congress on the matter the day after the tribal consultation. However, with the policy’s exact language still subject to change, the minerals council does not have a TERA drafted at this time. 

“We are not preparing one until we get the official roll out from the United States government,” Chairman Everett Waller said. “We do have to look at the options.”

In other business, the council’s Education Committee reminded attendees that applications for the Wah-Tiah-Kah scholarship are due Aug. 1. In order to be considered, Osage applicants must be enrolled full-time at an accredited post-secondary institution and pursuing a field of study related to the oil and gas industry, such as geology, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering or petroleum engineering.

“As far as I know, we have one applicant,” Education Committee chair Myron Red Eagle said. “If we don’t get any more applicants, then we’ll review that particular application and go from there.”