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Know the West

'There is a light at the end of the tunnel'


Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, "Open for business."

Byron and Marge Oedekoven, who own a ranch 12 miles north of Gillette, Wyo., have had a more positive experience with coalbed methane development on their property. Buteven though the company doing the development, Redstone Resources, worked with the family to come up with an agreement on surface impacts, changes at the company are causing major communication problems. Byron Oedekoven:

"The best advice we have to offer land and mineral owners is to educate yourselves. Talk to your neighbors, stick together, know your rights, and get it in writing.

"We had a good relationship with Redstone Resources in the beginning; however, due to changes in Redstone's management and the addition of a partner - Devon Energy - we have found our relationship to be one of frustration. Our frustration comes from royalty issues and dealing with a corporate mentality that finds it easier to go to court than to sit down and work out our differences.

"There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our gas field started in 1996. While we have some surface issues that we are addressing, the fact is that our surface impacts have lessened.

"I will admit that owning a portion of the minerals has made coalbed methane development a lot easier to take. I understand how frustrating it can be to have someone from an entirely different state who owns the minerals have control over what happens to your surface. In many cases, (the owners of the mineral rights) are two or three generations off the ranch, and have no idea how their decisions impact the landowner."

Molly Absolon is a freelance writer living in Lander, Wyoming.

Copyright © 2000 HCN and Molly Absolon