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As Profits Soar, Companies Pay U.S. Less for Gas Rights
At a time when energy prices and industry profits are soaring, the federal government collected little more money last year than it did five years ago from the companies that extracted more than $60 billion in oil and gas from publicly owned lands and coastal waters.
If royalty payments in fiscal 2005 for natural gas had risen in step with market prices, the government would have received about $700 million more than it actually did, a three-month investigation by The New York Times has found.
But an often byzantine set of federal regulations, largely shaped and fiercely defended by the energy industry itself, allowed companies producing natural gas to provide the Interior Department with much lower sale prices - the crucial determinant for calculating government royalties - than they reported to their shareholders.
As a result, the nation's taxpayers, collectively, the biggest owner of American oil and gas reserves, have missed much of the recent energy bonanza.
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Offshore revenues is a sore subject here in Louisiana. Why this state receives far less than others is a mystery. Well, maybe not - considering this states grand history of corruption and kickbacks I can see why the feds (for many years now) are hesitant to give money to Louisiana.
IIRC, offshore rights extend to 20 miles, except for Louisiana, where it's 5.