A potentially huge story appears to be breaking out of Rueters News Service involving circumstances associated oil and gas lease bidding after the May 2010 lease offering which resulted in the record $178 million “windfall” to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF).
Since this story involves many of our northern Michigan counties and potentially impacts funds flowing into the MNRTF, this is indeed worth following. Not to mention, we don’t get “60 Minutes” type stories around these parts often.
Since our little site here has no budget for legal defense fees, we will not speculate as to the merit or accuracy of the story. It is worth noting, however, that although the industry practice of “Area-of-Mutual interest agreements” are known to be common, according to oil and gas industry attorneys with whom we’ve spoken they are not intended to allow for the discussion of strategies to divide territory.
If there is some validity to this, it might suggest that the dramatic drop in lease bids since that time were not entirely related to the economics of development and markets. It’s also worth noting that the story reads much better when you substitute the words “lease prices” for “land prices.”
Here’s the link to the full story: