US Department of the Interior Natural Resources Revenue Data

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Revenue from natural resources on Indian land

Natural resources are increasingly a key source of income for many Native American tribes. In 2017, ONRR and OST disbursed $675,788,643 to tribes and allottees.

Much like federal revenue, revenue from natural resource extraction on tribal land is collected in each phase of the production process (for instance, companies pay bonuses to secure rights, rents during exploration, and royalties once production begins).

Revenue collection

Several organizations within the Department of the Interior have roles and responsibilities in collecting revenue from production on Indian land:

Resource Stage of Production
Securing a lease or claim Pre-production During production
Fluid minerals BIA bills, collects, and accounts for bonuses. BIA bills, collects, and accounts for rental on a least prior to BLM notice of first production. After production, ONRR collects, accounts for, and deposits rentals, royalties, and compliance-based collections. BIA collects other collections, such as payment for surface damages.
Solid minerals BIA bills, collects, and accounts for bonuses. BIA bills, collects, and accounts for rental prior to production. BIA bills, collects, and accounts for rentals post-production. Companies submit royalty and production reports to ONRR, but ONRR may not collect royalty payments unless BIA requests it. Companies deposit payments into OST- or tribal-owned lockboxes or mail checks to individual allottees. BIA collects other collections, such as water payments or payments for surface damages.

Exceptions exist to this process: notably, tribal lease direct payment, when a tribe collects and accounts for all payments except the bonus. Additionally, mineral owners of allotted leases may request that payments be made directly to them. BIA approves or denies these direct pay requests. The amounts paid for extraction on tribal lands vary by tribe and are not publicly available.

In the case of an IMDA agreement, the tribe collects taxes and non-trust revenue.

Revenue distribution

When the federal government collects payments, they’re generally deposited into trust accounts managed by the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST). When deposits are made into an OST-owned lockbox, OST deposits the funds into a trust account. When deposits are made into a tribal-owned lockbox, the tribe receives the funds directly.

ONRR provides a financial distribution report called an Explanation of Payment report (EOP) to tribes. For allottees, ONRR provides the collection information to BIA to create the EOP which outlines the distribution for each mineral owner. OST then transfers funds from the OST treasury account to either the mineral owner’s individual account or make a payment via check or automated clearing house payment to the mineral estate owner.

Revenue data

The federal government may only release information about natural resource extraction and revenue in aggregate across all Indian lands. This is because of confidentiality and proprietary constraints on tribal data. These constraints arise from treaties, laws, and regulations that the government consistently and uniformly applies.

In the tables below, revenue may be grouped differently depending on the stage of production; see documentation about the federal revenue dataset for more detailed explanations.

Revenue from natural resources on Indian land (FY 2017)

Commodity Bonus Rents Royalties Other Revenue
Oil - - $450,202,327 ($94,783)
Gas - - $111,207,489 $8,079
Coal $8,000,000 $131,700 $67,444,977 $15,919,908
NGL - - $9,800,085 ($4,529)
Other Products - - $415,873 $4,787,569
Oil & Gas - $4,199,896 - -
Sand & Gravel - $25,961 $947,070 -
Gypsum - $1,040 $544,125 -
Copper - $313,558 - -
Mining-Unspecified - $1,282 - -
Phosphate - $200 - -

Revenue from natural resources on Indian land (FY 2016)

Commodity Bonus Rents Royalties Other Revenue
Oil - - $379,273,891 -
Gas - - $96,933,337 -
Coal $5,500,000 $210,557 $58,492,019 $5,312,783
Oil & Gas - $4,061,269 - ($3,090,321)
Other Products - - $2,642,550 -
Copper - $8,169 - $2,059,034
Sand & Gravel - $547,328 - $837,077
Gypsum - $1,040 - $47,694
Mining-Unspecified - $1,282 - -
Phosphate - $200 - $1,200
Hardrock - - - $0
NGL - - ($682,965) -

Revenue from natural resources on Indian land (FY 2015)

Commodity Bonus Rents Royalties Other Revenue
Oil - - $601,836,550 -
Gas - - $135,002,710 -
Coal $200,000 $61,149 $74,385,900 ($9,591,654)
NGL - - $14,974,923 -
Oil & Gas - $4,063,264 - ($14,332,206)
Other Products - - $3,653,579 -
Copper - $8,169 - $1,200,000
Sand & Gravel - $528 - $504,584
Hardrock - - - $50,000
Phosphate - $200 - $1,200
Gypsum - $1,040 - ($10,622)
Mining-Unspecified - $0 - -

Revenue from natural resources on Indian land (FY 2014)

Commodity Bonus Rents Royalties Other Revenue
Oil - - $843,652,080 -
Gas - - $163,372,981 -
Coal $19,050,000 $151,501 $69,954,977 $8,516,312
NGL - - $18,002,611 -
Oil & Gas - $4,018,128 - $8,428,763
Other Products - - $1,993,486 -
Copper - $4,180 - $1,200,000
Sand & Gravel - $26,328 - $278,958
Gypsum - $1,960 - $3,260
Phosphate - $200 - $1,200
Hardrock - - - $0
Mining-Unspecified - $0 - -

Revenue from natural resources on Indian land (FY 2013)

Commodity Bonus Rents Royalties Other Revenue
Oil - - $684,766,073 -
Gas - - $130,635,348 -
Coal $10,611,353 $106,736 $78,219,385 $21,965,250
Oil & Gas - $2,652,684 - $24,238,464
NGL - - $12,634,563 -
Other Products - - $3,009,420 -
Copper - $6,174 - $1,481,367
Sand & Gravel - $51,057 - $556,250
Gypsum - $1,055 - $20,652
Phosphate - $200 - $1,200
Hardrock - - - $0
Mining-Unspecified - $0 - -

Audits and assurances

Tribal revenue data, like federal revenue data, is subject to standards, audits, and assurances. These include: