PROMO Energy - Oil Rig Gas Well - iStock - ssuaphoto

North Dakota settles mineral, oil rights boundary dispute

© iStock - ssuaphoto
Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - About $130 million will be returned to some North Dakota private mineral owners and gas operators as part of a settlement over the boundary of the Missouri River's ordinary high-water mark.

The North Dakota Board of University and School Lands announced Monday that the second part of the project was completed, which involved 47 oil and gas leases valued at $10 million.

The first part of the project was valued at $120 million and includes 510 oil and gas leases covering 39,500 mineral acres, according to a news release from Governor Doug Burgum.

The state was granted ownership of lands up to the Missouri River high water mark under the "equal footing doctrine." But the exact location of the mark was challenged, according to Burgum's office.

The dispute was settled when the 2017 Legislature commissioned a survey that showed the boundaries west of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The Land Board was required to work with the affected oil and gas operators on adjustments to leases and revenues.

"We are pleased to announce full completion of this project 11 months ahead of the required deadline," said Burgum, who chairs the five-member Land Board. "This finalizes a major initiative directed by the Legislature which provides clarity for the delineation of the Missouri River OHWM in the survey area and injects tens of millions of dollars back into the North Dakota economy through private mineral owners and oil and gas operators."