Government , Minerals Council

Council works to improve timeliness of shareholder checks and prepares for county-wide EIS

Since multiple shareholders had to wait on fourth-quarter headright checks from the federal government this December, the Osage Minerals Council is trying to avoid a repeat delay come March.

At its Dec. 18 meeting, the Osage Minerals Council unanimously approved a resolution directing its attorney, Wilson Pipestem, to follow up with the Office of the Special Trustee to make sure the spring headright checks are sent out on time and for the proper amount.

The December shareholder checks, valued at $4,005 for a full headright, were not sent out simultaneously, prompting a flurry of questions from shareholders and councilors alike. October’s headright checks were also delayed by OST due to the implementation of a new accounting system.

“We represent the shareholders,” Councilor Margo Gray said. “To miss three weeks of interest payments due to late checks is inexcusable.”

In other business, the council is looking at bringing on additional contractors to help it wade through and quickly respond to a county-wide environmental impact study draft put forward in late November by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The comment period on the 566-page proposal is open through Jan. 22, 2020, with BIA officials hoping to roll out a finished product for public review in May. The original deadline was Jan. 6, but BIA officials pushed back that date to accommodate business days lost due to the three federal holidays during the 45-day window.

As worded, the proposal offers up four courses of action the BIA could take with respect to environmental standards for drilling permits.    

The final version of the statement, whenever it is approved and enacted, is slated to replace a blanket declaration issued in 1979 that oil and gas operations in Osage County have no significant environmental impact.

Councilor Paul Revard, who did not attend the BIA’s Dec. 12 listening session, said he has little hope that the study will actually benefit local oil and gas production.

“I have no optimism that this document will be satisfactory for producers or shareholders,” Revard said. “I anticipate having to go back to court over this.”