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SW Idaho couple wants Texas oil company to reveal records

A southwestern Idaho couple concerned they aren’t being paid their fair share of oil and natural gas royalties are asking state officials to force a Texas-based oil company to reveal production and other records.

Randy and Thana Kauffman made the formal complaint on Dec. 7 at the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting.

In a one-page letter addressed to Chairman Kevin Dickey and the four other commissioners, the Kauffmans asked the commission to use its authority to make sure Alta Mesa provides the information.

“The state of Idaho is obligated by statute to ensure that all mineral interest owners — including private owners and the state of Idaho — are paid fairly,” the Kauffmans wrote.

Alta Mesa released a statement saying the company believes it has met all its obligations.

“We have paid the Kauffmans more royalties than anyone else in Idaho, and have fulfilled other obligations in our relationship,” according to the statement released late Dec. 7. “We don’t have any information about or understand their complaint.”

Dickey said after the meeting the commission would examine the letter more closely in the coming weeks.

“We’ll review it and come up with a plan,” he said.

Idaho itself is in the process of auditing Alta Mesa’s production records on state land with results expected early next year.

That audit follows sweeping changes to Idaho natural gas and oil laws at the Legislative session earlier this year amid complaints private mineral rights owners aren’t receiving fair royalty payments.

Oil and Gas Commissioner Jim Classen said after the meeting Dec. 7 that the audit could provide information to royalty holders such as the Kauffmans.

“They can analyze the information obtained through the audit and reflect from their statements if they want to request additional information from the operator,” he said.

Idaho has a long history of oil and gas exploration starting in the early 1900s, but it was Alta Mesa using new technologies that made Idaho an oil and gas producing state. The company has spent more than $160 million finding reserves to tap and building infrastructure. But questions about what they’ve been pulling from those reserves have bubbled up.

The new laws earlier this year also revamped the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by replacing mostly citizen commissioners with three industry experts, a county commissioner and the director of the Idaho Department of Lands.

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