Category: Energy

Understanding Net Mineral Acres in the Oil and Gas Industry

Duke Ligon - Diverse Experience as Oklahoma City Oil Executive
Duke Ligon, Oklahoma City

The former Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Devon Energy in Oklahoma City, Duke Ligon now manages operations at Mekusukey Oil Company in Wewoka, approximately one hour east of Oklahoma City, as chief executive officer. Prior to launching an energy sector career that has spanned five decades, Duke Ligon studied law at the University of Texas Law School.

Mekusukey presides over an extensive portfolio of mineral interests, as well as gas and oil interests, that are acquired and managed by the company, as opposed to sold for profit. These interests includes 100,000 net mineral acres across 2.3 million gross acres in 25 states. In the oil and gas industry, net mineral acres is a term used to describe the total acreage controlled by the mineral owner compared to total gross acres comprising a specific tract of land. For instance, an individual or company entitled to 50 percent of the mineral interests mined from a 200 acre tract of land would be in possession of 100 net mineral acres.

Understanding the productivity and viability of the net mineral acres making up a portfolio is crucial to the success of oil and gas industry operators. For example, a company’s monthly cash flow is based on net mineral acres, which may be only a fraction of the valuation on gross mineral acres for a property. Furthermore, net mineral acreage is closely related to depth rights, which dictate how deep or shallow an operator must go before they have legal ownership over discovered minerals.

Oil and Natural Gas See Positive Outlook for 2018

Duke Ligon - Diverse Experience as Oklahoma City Oil Executive
Duke Ligon, Oklahoma City

A longtime Oklahoma City business leader, Duke Ligon has brought together diverse aspects of oil and natural gas, finance, and law over his decades of entrepreneurial experience. Duke Ligon has extensive knowledge of natural resource exploration and extraction spanning Oklahoma and Texas and has served on the board of enterprises such as Vantage Drilling Company and Panhandle Oil and Gas, Inc.

Recent news has brought attention to positive momentum for the U.S. oil and gas sector, with gas prices rising toward peaks not seen since 2014. An Oil & Gas 360 article described a particular surge in natural gas consumption, with several export terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG), including at Cove Point in Maryland, set to open in the next year. Exports to Mexico through Texas are also a critical part of this, with the Sur de Texas pipeline set to open in the latter half of 2018. With approximately 13 gigawatts of capacity from conventional steam coal plants set to retire, LNG-powered plants are expected to pick up the electricity production slack.

The Dallas News also reports that surges in oil prices are already having a positive impact on the state coffers. In particular, prices per barrel, driven to historic lows by fracking, are now on the rebound, with crude’s benchmark price breaking the $60-a-barrel barrier and continuing to rise.

KBH Energy Center’s Recent Research on ESA’s Impact on Energy Projects

KBH Energy Center pic
KBH Energy Center
Image: kbhenergycenter.utexas.edu

From his office in Oklahoma City, Duke Ligon oversees all aspects of Mekusukey Oil Company, which maintains a portfolio of mineral interests throughout the United States. In tandem with his work as owner and manager of Mekusukey Oil, Duke Ligon guides the mission of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law and Business as co-chair of the executive council.

In addition to promoting energy leaders of the future, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center, commonly known as KBH Energy Center, produces original research on issues of interest to the energy sector. For example, in response to the complaints of many industry groups that the Endangered Species Act requires a lengthy consultation process prior to starting energy projects, the center recently published research exploring the impact of the Endangered Species Act on such projects.

The research found that only a small number of energy projects on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management were subject to a consultation between 2010 and 2014. Of those energy projects, consultations on oil and gas projects took relatively little time, while consultations on renewable energy projects took substantially longer. None of these projects were stopped due to the Endangered Species Act. While industry representatives complained that the consultations delayed projects significantly, the paper concluded that measures were being taken to make the consultation process more streamlined and standardized.

The Developing Role of Federal Energy Regulations

Duke Ligon - Diverse Experience as Oklahoma City Oil Executive
Duke Ligon, Oklahoma City

As an attorney and a board member of multiple energy production companies, Duke Ligon of Oklahoma City has an interest in laws regulating the energy industry. Duke Ligon is co-chair of the executive council of Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business, working with the University of Texas to inform rising generations of energy producers about industry regulation.

Legal regulations surrounding energy production, transmission, and consumption serve a range of purposes. The Department of Energy was established in 1977 as a direct response to the energy crisis of that decade. Prior to the DoE, such matters were addressed by the Federal Power Commission established in 1920, but the resource scarcity of the Great Depression and WWII, in addition to the growing demand on power systems and fuel sources over the 20th century, gradually led the government to take more direct action.

Recent years have seen the government’s mission expand further with the growing concerns regarding foreign dependence, pollution, and climate change. Besides offering incentives for innovations in energy efficiency and emission reduction, the Department of Energy has determined that it would set an example of responsible energy use. It is committed that by 2025, the federal government will draw at least 30 percent of its energy use from renewable sources and that at least 25 percent would be from clean energy.