Tribe Wants Fee On Wasted Natural Gas

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Tribal leaders on an American Indian reservation in the heart of North Dakota's booming oil patch are proposing fees for companies that burn and waste natural gas.

The Three Affiliated Tribes outlined its plan to impose fees in a six-page document sent to oil companies. In it, the tribe said companies would be required to pay royalties for "flaring" natural gas to compensate for lost revenue when the gas isn't brought to market and sold.

Oil production on the Fort Berthold Reservation accounts for about a third of the state's oil output of more than 1 million barrels a day, which has made North Dakota the second-largest oil producing state in the country behind Texas.

The Associated Press obtained the documents from industry groups. Tribal officials didn't return several phone messages seeking comment on Thursday.

Industry officials are questioning whether the tribe has the jurisdiction to impose such fees and warned that the change could slow oil production on the reservation. They note that tribal officials signed a tax agreement in 2008 that gave the state power to regulate reservation oil production.

Before that agreement, oil companies were hesitant to drill on the sovereign land due to complex tribal rules and tax uncertainty.

State officials said Thursday they were unaware of the tribe's fee proposal and declined immediate comment.


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