Minerals Council

Minerals Council approves new lease for Gopher Oil

Gopher Oil is back in action in Osage County.

At the Osage Minerals Council’s June 12 meeting, the council voted 4-1 to extend a new lease to the Stigler-based producer.

Gopher Oil representatives told the council that in May, they received a letter dated April 15, retroactively terminating its lease for non-production and ordering its wells to be plugged. They also said they did not receive a show-cause notice prior to the termination notice.

“We’re going to lose money at the current prices,” Michael Wachtman said. “We’re going to lose money, but long term, we want to keep the lease so we can produce it and we can make money for all of us.”

Councilwoman Marsha Harlan cast the lone no vote. Councilors Talee Redcorn and Andrew Yates were absent, while Councilwoman Margo Gray abstained.

The lease initially appeared on the council’s May 20 agenda and was tabled. A motion later in the same meeting to rescind the superintendent’s termination failed.

The motion as approved at the June 12 meeting did not explicitly rescind the superintendent’s termination notice. However, Chairman Everett Waller noted that once the new lease is signed, the termination notice would be moot.

Wachtman also made a point to say that he did not have anything to do with social media posts that started circulating in early June regarding the council’s decision not to rescind the superintendent’s termination notice to Gopher Oil.

A post in a closed Facebook group criticizing the May 20 decision prompted a flurry of phone calls and emails from shareholders, questioning the council’s action in light of slumping oil prices.

“I did see the stuff on Facebook,” Wachtman said. “We’re not members of that organization but it was brought to our attention. I’m sorry you guys had to go through that. We were not trying to cause chaos. I appreciate their support, but that was not us. We were just trying to deal with you guys and get back in production and move on.”

Almost immediately after the council approved a new lease for Gopher Oil, Brian Fox, a representative for Ronco, said he also received a retroactive termination notice without a show-cause notice.

“This is another incident where the superintendent violated her own policy,” Councilwoman Susan Forman said. “She did not send them a show-cause letter. I don’t think it was a proper termination.”

Superintendent Robin Phillips was not at the meeting to answer questions. The Bureau of Indian Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.