The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has suffered plenty of historical setbacks; today, however, its 1,400 members are collectively worth billions. In the 1970s, the tribe began taking control of energy profits from its southwestern Colorado reservation, home to one of the country’s richest gas fields. In the 1990s, it formed its own energy company, Red Willow. The tribe’s diverse portfolio, including biotech, real estate and defense contracts, helped it weather drops in natural gas prices, and in 2008, Red Willow Offshore bid against BP for oil drilling permits off the Gulf of Mexico (“The Ute Paradox,” HCN, 7/19/10).
The tribal council recently christened Delta House, a 296-foot-tall,
$2 billion oil and natural gas production system off the Louisiana coast handling raw product from drill rigs, it could produce some 80,000 barrels of oil and 200 million standard cubic feet of gas daily. Provided oil prices remain at $100 per barrel — and barring catastrophes — the Southern Utes should see a substantial return on yet another investment.