Adam Wilmoth: Low natural gas prices hurt royalty owners

Low natural gas prices have led energy companies throughout the country to move away from natural gas and toward oil instead. The change has been especially difficult to the state's royalty owners, who do not have the ability to change to the hip fossil fuel.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: September 7, 2012
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The family's old well is not a particularly large producer, especially when its earnings are split among four siblings. Weathers and her brothers have never counted on the gas money as a large part of their income, but they are hopeful that prices will rebound and larger checks soon will return.

“This provided a cushion and went into the emergency fund or special occasion fund,” Weathers said. “It was never anything we counted on for retirement income or anything like that.”

Natural gas prices tumbled from $4.10 one year ago to a low of $1.90 in April. The price has since recovered somewhat, closing at $2.77 per thousand cubic feet on Thursday. While the price has improved, it still is considered well below the level needed to make drilling new wells profitable.

Weathers is hopeful the price will climb again soon. Either way, she said natural gas has been beneficial to her family and western Oklahoma.

“The best crop ever grown in Major County is those derricks,” Weathers said. “The energy industry saved Major County and western Oklahoma. We're grateful our parents had the benefit of the boom.”

by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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