Spotlight on Mineral Rights

WSJ: The Underground Way to Earn a 10% Yield in Oil Stocks

Mineral rights entitle these firms, including Viper Energy Partners LP and Kimbell Royalty Partners LP, to the first cut of cash once oil and gas wells begin producing. The royalties they receive usually range from about 12% to 25%. Their place at the head of the line for payouts, plus the fact that they bear none of the drilling costs and keep collecting even if producers drill themselves bankrupt, have helped minerals owners outperform most other energy stocks in a year when investor sentiment has collapsed due to low oil and gas prices and profligate spending.

Mineral rights are a uniquely American asset class. In no other country are most mineral rights owned by ordinary citizens. It is also a highly fragmented asset class, akin to rental houses. The National Association of Royalty Owners estimates that there are more than 12 million private owners of mineral rights. Kimbell calculates the total market value of mineral rights at about $550 billion, of which public companies own just 2% or so.

The principal way to acquire mineral rights has usually been to inherit them. “Never sell your minerals” is a marketplace adage. These days, though, that bit of country wisdom is being cast aside by many who have inherited the rights to oil and gas royalties. The result is a consolidation by Wall Street of assets that have long been an integral part of intergenerational family wealth.

Wild that TPL wasn’t mentioned.  Thanks to a reader for the heads up on this article!

“Eat Our Own Cooking”

WSJ: A Real-Estate Mogul Is Behind the Hottest Stock in the Oil Patch

No, not TPL (right now), but good information nonetheless.  This ‘skin in the game’ ethos gets me fired up.

Mr. Goff first reported a stake in Contango last summer. He bought more than 18% of the company’s shares when they were trading for more than $4 and pushed the company to cut costs, particularly at its headquarters.

Messrs. Goff and Colyer joined the company’s board in August 2018. Mr. Colyer, who was 33 years old at the time and has worked at Mr. Goff’s side for more than a decade, assumed the CEO role. His first move was to cut his own salary in half.

“We’re going to eat our own cooking and keep costs low and try to get the upside,” Mr. Colyer said in an interview.

Messrs. Goff and Colyer said that in addition to running a lean operation in Contango’s Houston headquarters, they are hoping to grow without spending much on drilling, aiming instead to gather wells that are already producing oil and gas.

“There’s a whole host of avenues to grow without drilling holes in the ground,” Mr. Goff said.

Any Rare Earths Under There?

WSJ: If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig

A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life.

When electricity comes from wind or solar machines, every unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels. That physical reality is literally visible: A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.

Building one wind turbine requires 900 tons of steel, 2,500 tons of concrete and 45 tons of nonrecyclable plastic. Solar power requires even more cement, steel and glass—not to mention other metals. Global silver and indium mining will jump 250% and 1,200% respectively over the next couple of decades to provide the materials necessary to build the number of solar panels, the International Energy Agency forecasts. World demand for rare-earth elements—which aren’t rare but are rarely mined in America—will rise 300% to 1,000% by 2050 to meet the Paris green goals. If electric vehicles replace conventional cars, demand for cobalt and lithium, will rise more than 20-fold. That doesn’t count batteries to back up wind and solar grids.

WSJ on Mineral Rights

WSJ: As Drillers Struggle, Shale Investors Seek Safety in Mineral Rights

Mineral rights-owning companies aren’t without risk. Royalty payments are tied to both production levels and commodity prices, neither of which mineral owners typically control. Many shale companies have cut spending on drilling this year, while oil prices have hovered around $60 a barrel. Less production paired with lower prices means the value of royalty payments will drop.

“Part of the risk associated with the investments is you are a passive investor,” said Justin Stolte, a partner at law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Still, the value of large mineral owners such as Texas Pacific Land Trust, formed after Texas and Pacific Railway went bankrupt in the late 1800s, has soared as the booming Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico transformed the U.S. into the world’s top oil producer. The price of shares in the trust has more than quadrupled in the past five years to more than $760.

They forgot management agency risk…

WSJ on Texas Water

WSJ : Neighbors Face Off Over Texas’ Other Lucrative Resource: Water

Frackers in the region pay an average 50 to 75 cents for a barrel of water, according to Bluefield Research, a water advisory firm. That amounts to more than $200,000 a well. Supplying water for fracking in the Permian is a roughly $1.2 billion industry annually, and including transportation and other costs, water spending for fracking there will surge to as much as $54 billion over the next decade, the firm said.

By the 1980s, Mr. Williams had amassed about 18,000 acres above a number of aquifers, deep deposits trapped in a natural underground dam some scientists believe an asteroid impact formed millions of years ago. The aquifers are valuable because they fill every winter from nearby mountains. The Williamses are Texas’ largest private water owners, some hydrogeologists estimate.

 

Tact and Discipline

WSJ: Second Wave of U.S. Shale Revolution Is Coming, Says IEA

Not high on the Texas oilman’s trait list.   Don’t give away the store fellas.

 

Shale was largely behind the glut of American oil that flooded the market more than four years ago, leading oil prices to fall to $30 a barrel from more than a $100 a barrel in late 2014.

U.S. shale production in 2018 grew faster than it did during the boom years of 2011 to 2014, the IEA said last year.

The U.S. last year surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil, with output currently hovering around 12 million barrels a day.

U.S. crude production is expected to rise to 13.7 million barrels a day by the end of its five-year forecast period, the IEA said Monday.

“Annual gains will boost the U.S. to levels never seen in any country, in excess of maximum capacity in both Russia and Saudi Arabia,” the report noted.