Nearly $600,000 is sitting in a provincial trust fund waiting for some lucky Manitoba families to claim their share.
According to the Manitoba Innovation, Energy and Mines website, there have been 15 missing royalty owners in the province over the last 12 months.
The latest could-be Clampetts — the family from the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies” who struck oil on their land and became instant millionaires — own a plot of land southwest of Cromer.
They had until Aug. 9 to make a claim and negotiate with the oil company before it begins drilling.
Manitoba is the most easterly province where the majority of mineral rights are still owned by private owners.
Because much of southwestern Manitoba was homesteaded prior to 1890, when the federal government assumed mineral rights in Western Canada, many farmers still own the mineral rights to their land.
The rights were later transferred to the provinces.
“In the producing areas in southwestern Manitoba, approximately 80 per cent of the minerals are owned by private individuals,” an Innovation, Energy and Mines spokesman said.
When a missing royalty owner doesn’t show up, Minister Dave Chomiak can issue an order authorizing drilling and production on the land on behalf of the missing party.
“The company makes an application to the minister showing the attempts they have made to determine the identity of the royalty owner,” the spokesman said.
“If they have been diligent and unsuccessful, notice of the application will be sent to all parties that have an interest in the land, any interested parties that have been determined by the company’s investigations and the local rural municipality.”
Notices are often posted in local newspapers and government offices.
In many cases the land goes unclaimed, at which point drilling can move forward.
From there, the province negotiates all rental terms, bonus payments and royalties with the oil company with the money held in trust for five years, the spokesman said.
“If no interested parties step forward within the five-year period, actions will be taken to move the ownership of the minerals to the Province of Manitoba.”
The amount currently held in trust is $594,000 — and growing.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 24, 2013