By ELOISE OGDEN
North Dakota now has more than 11,000 producing wells and activity in the oil field, as shown, continues to increase. When owners of the surface and/or minerals have issues with oil companies and other oil-field-related firms, there are agencies and organizations who offer help.
When surface and mineral owners have issues with oil companies and other oil-field-related firms, there are agencies and organizations who offer services of help.
Agencies and organizations that can provide assistance include the following:
Alison Ritter, public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismark, said mineral and surface owners can call that agency for information. If the Mineral Resources Department does not have the information to answer a query, it will refer the person to another agency or organization.
To contact the Mineral Resources Department call 328-8020 or visit its website at (www.dmr.nd.gov/).
The North Dakota Agriculture Department offers mediation from its North Dakota Medication Service, formerly the N.D. Agricultural Mediation Service.
Mediation is now available to address many energy development-related issues, including surface damages, property access, mineral rights and royalties.
The 2011 Legislature expanded the responsibilities to include dispute resolution of property issues related to energy development and landowner disputes with the N.D. Game and Fish Department related to damage caused by deer on winter livestock feed supplies.
According to the N.D. Department of Agriculture website, mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a neutral mediator guides the parties who are involved in a dispute through a thorough examination and discussion of the issues. The mediator also helps the parties identify possible solutions. Agricultural producers, energy developers, landowners, or an owner, lessee, or lessor of mineral interests may request assistance from the North Dakota Mediation Service. Other entities may qualify, but all requests for service are considered.
The mediation allows all parties involved in the dispute to speak openly about the issues in a confidential manner. North Dakota law provides that with some limitations, mediation is confidential and privileged.
There is an hourly charge for the service based on each case, according to a spokeswoman.
To request mediation services or learn more about the program, people can call 328-4158 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The N.D. Department of Agriculture's website also has information about the program at (www.nd.gov/ndda)
The North Dakota Petroleum Council has information available for surface and royalty owners.
The information for royalty owners includes the process and what a royalty owner can expect if they have mineral rights. The information on surface owner issues includes split estate, a term used when ownership of the surface estate is legally severed, or split from ownership of the subsurface mineral estate.
The information is available at (www.ndoil.org/), then go to "Oil Can!"
Royalty owners with questions can contact the National Association of Royalty Owners, an educational and informational organization, in Tulsa, Okla., at 918-794-1660 or 1-800-558-0557 or email NARO@NARO-us.org.
Although there is a North Dakota chapter, a spokeswoman at the Tulsa office said people with queries should call that office since it has regular office hours.
The Northwest Landowners Association notes on its website that it "strives to inform, support, and promote property rights issues to landowners and residents of northwest North Dakota." Its mission includes "to create a network of information on issues as they pertain to mineral owners, landowners, operators, or occupants."
For more information about the organization visit (nwlandowners.com/).
Dakota Resource Council was formed in 1978 to protect North Dakota's land, air, water, rural communities and agricultural economy, is a nonprofit grassroots activist organization. Its work also includes regulation of oil and gas development.
For more information contact the Dakota Resource Council at its main office in Bismarck at 224-8587. People also can call the Dickinson office at 483-2851 and the Grand Forks office at 595-2344, or visit DRC's website at (drcinfo.org/).