Tribe makes efforts to reclaim reservation oil production

NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) — A tribal-owned oil company that started oil production last year has garnered roughly 1,000 barrels of oil per day for the Three Affiliated Tribes.

Missouri River Resources’ first barrel of oil was produced in June 2015, and last year it drilled four wells. The Bismarck Tribune ( ) reports that the tribe is making efforts to reclaim oil production that takes place on the reservation by taking on leaseholds that are new or expiring.

Those first wells were drilled on land inherited by the company when another one departed. Missouri River Resources board chairman Ken Hall said the tribal-owned company has plans this year for three four-well projects and for a project next year that’s 32 wells.

“It’s a new day for us,” Hall said.

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In 2007 and 2008, private companies were leased the majority of tribal lands by the tribe. The tribal-owned company is now trying to get leaseholds on the reservation that become available.

The tribe gets back 26 percent of royalties when it drills its own oil, while it gets 18 percent when the drilling is done by private companies. The tribe can then use the funds in areas such as infrastructure, law enforcement and education, Hall said. The revenue that’s left gets invested back into the oil company.

Hall said recognizing the position of the tribe as a powerhouse in oil and as a nation is something that the industry and state need to do better.

“We’re big players in the whole scheme of things,” Hall said.