What Lies Beneath: Managing Mineral Wealth

Whatever one thinks about fossil fuels, mineral resources such as oil and natural gas are important sources of wealth for property owners who acquire it.

 

BY: Tom Burroughes, Group Editor  |  Family Wealth Report
Originally published at fwreport.com on October 20, 2020

 

Photo of David Luke

with David Luke, President, Argent Mineral Management

One major concern in the forthcoming Presidential elections is energy policy, and specifically, shale oil/natural gas, aka “fracking”. Advocates say that fracking has made the US far less dependent on imported oil from often politically questionable and unstable regimes – which is a good thing – and that natural gas is in some ways less of a problem for CO2 emissions than other carbon sources (that view is contested). Opponents of fracking say that even if there are some benefits, damage to ground water, emissions and other geological effects are a problem. This is a particularly difficult subject when countries are understandably keen to boost economic growth as the world tries to emerge from the pandemic. (Family Wealth Report in 2013 interviewed some wealth management figures about fracking and how this has driven new wealth.)

What is clear is that the property rights associated with extractive energy industries are a major issue. Discovering mineral/energy resources can enrich thousands of landowners, who often had previously not been at all well-off. Newly-minted HNW individuals who have such mineral rights are an important demographic in parts of the US such as Texas, Oklahoma and South Dakota, to name just three. And one wealth management firm operating in much of the South, and certain other states, is Argent Financial. The firm has a unit that is dedicated to mineral rights advisory and management. A few weeks ago, Argent named Andrew Blackburn as property manager for the Argent Mineral Management division in the Ruston corporate office. That hire is a reminder of how this remains a busy area. Blackburn will report to David Luke, president of Argent Mineral Management. FWR recently interviewed Luke about this business area. (We reported on other moves in this space here.)

What does Argent Mineral Management do? How many people work for it, and where are its offices? How old is this business?
Argent Mineral Management manages and handles oil and gas mineral rights for families, corporations, nonprofits, hospital systems, churches, foundations, trusts and other clients. We have 27 employees with offices in five different cities: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; San Antonio and Fort Worth, Texas; and Shreveport and Ruston, Louisiana. Our division formed five years ago as a merger of two long-established mineral management firms, Heritage Mineral Management and Argent Property Services.

By “mineral management,” what does this term mean?
In the US, we’re lucky that our citizens are allowed to have mineral ownership, and it’s not just reserved for the government. Not all people in all countries have this right. It’s a luxury and a generational asset, and it can be very lucrative. However, it can be intimidating and confusing and financially dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. For those who aren’t knowledgeable or don’t have the time, we take the management of those rights off their plate. We make the decisions, negotiate contracts, handle accounting, manage working interests and handle reporting for taxes. We also provide an audit service for the verification of past payment history.

Within the context of US and state law, how are mineral rights defined? How large is this market?
I would define mineral rights as ownership of an underground asset. The mineral rights owner owns the rights to their assets, above anyone else, when they’re extracted and sold. I can’t define the entire market in terms of monetary value – I’m not sure anyone can – but geographically, our offices are in what we refer to as the “energy belt” of the US. However, we manage mineral rights for owners across the US and around the world.

 

Read David Luke’s entire Q&A with Family Wealth Report over at their website – fwreport.com.

About

Argent Financial Group

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (Argent) is a leading, independent, fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $30 billion in client assets, Argent provides individuals, families, businesses and institutions with a broad range of wealth management services, including trust and estate administration, investment management, ESOPs, retirement plan consulting, funeral and cemetery trusts, charitable organization administration, oil and gas (mineral) management and other unique financial services. Headquartered in Ruston, Louisiana, Argent was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.

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