OKLAHOMA CITY - Larry Johnson is his mother's caregiver and handles her finances and mail.
“The first thing that concerned me was the fact that it looked like a bill,” he said.
He has questions about a registration notice that was addressed to his mother.
He said, “It doesn't necessarily give you a due date, but it gives you the amount due.”
We know the $35 annual fee registers your information with the Oklahoma Mineral Owner Registry.
Owner Dean Martin spent two decades as a land man and says he created the for-profit database to make it easier for oil and gas companies to find mineral rights owners, so they don't miss out on a lease or royalty payments.
“When oil and gas companies go out and do their research on the county records a lot of times that information is old or date,” Martin said. “It's not updated.”
Martin says energy companies get to search the database for free and can use the tool to help them fill in the holes.
“Literally it's from taking the information, a few clicks of the mouse and now I have got a current address, contact information and so forth,” Martin said.
By law oil and gas companies are only required to send a letter to the mineral owner's last known address.
If they can't find the owners the state lets the company lease the land and drill anyway and then the state holds the missing royalties and payments in a fund.
- Find out if you are owed any money here.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission Spokesperson Matt Skinner said, “You were someone who had an ancestor who owned minerals in 1910 [and] that's still the name on the minerals, then if you can prove those minerals were a part of the estate that came to you, you would get the money that is in the fund.
Records are not automatically updated when people move or inherit mineral rights.
For any given property there might be dozens, sometimes hundreds of mineral owners.
Anyone can update their records at their county courthouse for less than $20.
“Now there are a variety of professionals in the oil and gas business that can help you with the task of that type of thing and it's up to the consumer to decide whether or not those services are worth it to you,” Skinner said.
Martin says updating your records can be tricky.
First off you need the correct legal descriptions, plus maybe you inherited your mineral rights and don't know it.
“A lot of people are second and third generation,” Martin said. “They've inherited their mineral rights, [which] a lot of times are still in the names of parents, grandparents, people who have passed away. We cross reference that in the database.”