The obligation arising under an oil and gas lease to pay oil or gas royalties to the mineral owner or the mineral owner’s assignee, or to deliver oil or gas to a purchaser to the credit of the mineral owner or the mineral owner’s assignee, or to pay the market value thereof is of the essence in the lease contract, and breach of the obligation may constitute grounds for the cancellation of the lease in cases where it is determined by the court that the equities of the case require cancellation. If the operator under an oil and gas lease fails to pay oil or gas royalties to the mineral owner or the mineral owner’s assignee within one hundred fifty days after oil or gas produced under the lease is marketed and cancellation of the lease is not sought or if the operator fails to pay oil or gas royalties to an unleased mineral interest owner within one hundred fifty days after oil or gas production is marketed from the unleased mineral interest owner’s mineral interest, the operator thereafter shall pay interest on the unpaid royalties, without the requirement that the mineral owner or the mineral owner’s assignee request the payment of interest, at the rate of eighteen percent per annum until paid, except that the commissioner of university and school lands may negotiate a rate to be no less than the prime rate as established by the Bank of North Dakota plus four percent per annum with a maximum of eighteen percent per annum, for unpaid royalties on minerals owned or managed by the board of university and school lands. Provided, that the operator may remit semiannually to a person entitled to royalties the aggregate of six months’ monthly royalties where the aggregate amount is less than fifty dollars. The district court for the county in which the oil or gas well is located has jurisdiction over all proceedings brought pursuant to this section. The prevailing party in any proceeding brought pursuant to this section is entitled to recover any court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. This section does not apply when mineral owners or their assignees elect to take their proportionate share of production in kind, in the event of a dispute of title existing that would affect distribution of royalty payments, or when a mineral owner cannot be located after reasonable inquiry by the operator; however, the operator shall make royalty payments to those mineral owners whose title and ownership interest is not in dispute.
Terms Used In North Dakota Code 47-16-39.1
- Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
- Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
- Lease: A contract transferring the use of property or occupancy of land, space, structures, or equipment in consideration of a payment (e.g., rent). Source: OCC
- Obligation: An order placed, contract awarded, service received, or similar transaction during a given period that will require payments during the same or a future period.
- Person: means an individual, organization, government, political subdivision, or government agency or instrumentality. See North Dakota Code 1-01-49