Mineral rights owners aren't satisfied with Continental payment offer

|About: Continental Resources, Inc. (CLR)|By:, SA News Editor

This is not a typo: Continental Resources (CLR +2.6%) says it wants to pay North Dakota state taxes and make royalty payments on natural gas it improperly burned off at dozens of wells in recent years, and is asking state regulators to approve its plans.

But lawyers for land and mineral rights owners who have sued CLR over what they say are unpaid royalties believe the company's main goal is to minimize its liability as the state finally moves to curb flaring; natural gas that is pumped out of the ground along with more valuable oil is burned at a much higher rate in North Dakota than in other crude-producing states.

How to value the gas that has been flared off is at issue: Those who are owed royalties are pushing for a higher valuation than CLR wants, and want royalties on flared gas the company says is legally exempt from royalty and tax payments under state statue.

Other companies that have been accused of failing to pay land owners or the state treasury for flared gas include Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) subsidiary XTO Energy and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) unit Burlington Resources Oil & Gas.