Indian tribe and not Amoco owns coal bed methane gas

Jul 29, 1997 02:00 AM

July 16, 1997 An Indian tribe and not other landowners who have signed leases with major oil companies owns coal bed methane gas in Colorado worth hundreds of millions of dollars, a federal appeals Court ruled recently. Amoco Production Co holds about 70 % of the leases, said Thomas Shipps, attorney for the Southern Ute tribe in south-western Colorado.
Other oil companies who also claimed they had also signed leases with landowners include Phillips Petroleum and Mobil. The 3-0 decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver reversed a 1995 ruling by a U.S. District Court judge who ruled the natural gas was owned by scores of individuals who own the land where the gas is located. The tribe had sued the oil companies and the landowners to resolve the issue of ownership of the coal gas. The gas is in coal on land once part of the tribe's reservation. But the land had fallen into the hands of scores of private owners, Shipps said. The land owners later entered into leases with Amoco and the other oil companies to develop the gas. But the tribe argued it had never conveyed ownership of the coal from which the gas is extracted.

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