March 21, 2013

Boom divides reservation

Boom divides reservation
Lawsuits claim tribes cheated of $1 billion +

Editor’s note: The following story appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal
FORT BERTHOLD INDIAN RESERVATION —The shale-oil boom in North Dakota gave the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Indians here the chance to become some of the wealthiest tribes in U.S. history.
But the oil has also divided the reservation, drawing lawsuits, an FBI investigation and accusations from tribal members that their leaders squandered the historic opportunity.
Truck traffic that has grown with North Dakota’s oil boom kicks up a cloud of dust last summer on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
The fight highlights how much the shale-oil revolution in the U.S. has become a gamechanger for many rural areas where the economy was once moribund. The boom has offered the possibility of profound riches but also of acrimony and finger-pointing.
U.S. natural-gas production will accelerate over the next three decades, new research indicates, providing the strongest evidence yet that the energy boom remaking America will last for a generation. Jerry Dicolo joins Markets Hub. Photo: Getty Images.
In the hundreds of deals at the center of dispute, Spencer Wilkinson Jr., the manager of the reservation’s casino, teamed up with hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management LLC and oilfield-services titan Schlumberger Ltd. to lease the drilling rights to 85,800 acres in 2007 and 2008. They paid roughly $14 million, plus a share of future drilling revenue, according to court documents and to federal records.
Less than two years later, the Och-Ziff group sold the rights for $949 million, according to regulatory filings.

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