Oil & Gas

Published: Sep 19, 2022 | Updated at: Dec 28, 2023

The world of mineral rights can seem like a labyrinth of legal jargon and complex financial calculations. But when you peel back the layers, you discover a fascinating landscape of opportunity. One that has the potential to generate significant income and add value to your investment portfolio. However, to navigate this terrain, it’s essential to understand the intricacies of the two types of mineral interests: Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI) and Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI).

These interests, deeply rooted in the oil and gas industry, can have significant financial and legal implications. A well-informed investor, one who understands the difference between an NPRI and NEMI, can potentially reap the benefits of a steady income stream and valuable tax deductions. Of course, this understanding also helps avoid missteps that could result in lengthy legal disputes or financial losses. So, whether you’re a seasoned investor or a newcomer to the world of mineral rights, strap in as we embark on a journey to explore the nuances of NPRI and NEMI.

Key Takeaways

  • A Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI) gives the owner a share in the profits from mineral extraction without production costs but no leasing rights, while a Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI) allows for lease bonus collection without the executive leasing authority.

  • The creation of NPRIs doesn’t require a mineral owner’s consent and is done through a deed grant or reservation, whereas NEMIs are established through legal agreements when executive rights are separated from mineral rights.

  • Both NPRIs and NEMIs are subject to federal income tax, potentially eligible for a depletion allowance, and can be profitable through royalties despite market fluctuations, legal complexities, and the absence of decision-making powers for owners.

Understanding NPRI vs NEMI: Definition and Basics

oil executives and attorneys in office negotiating oil lease

With the industrial revolution, the oil and gas industry, including Canada’s oil sands, conventional oil, and the Midland Basin, has become a vital cog in the machinery of global economies. The production and consumption chain of crude oil alone moves approximately 100 million barrels per day from petroleum exporting countries to consumers – a testament to its significance and the importance of understanding its chemical composition, as well as addressing potential oil spills. As a result, the ability to produce oil efficiently and responsibly has become paramount.

Consider the prospect of owning a stake in this chain. Grasping the basics of NPRI and NEMI is a fundamental aspect of this.

What is a Mineral Interest?

A mineral interest represents the ownership rights of the minerals beneath a particular tract of land, located below the earth’s surface. The holder of a mineral interest has the right to explore, extract, and sell the minerals contained within the property’s boundaries. These rights often include oil, gas, coal, metals, and even rare earth elements. The precise rights and obligations associated with a mineral interest can vary depending on the specific terms of the mineral deed or lease.

There are different types of mineral interests, each with its unique characteristics and implications for the owner. Among these, Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI) and Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI) are two key types, each carrying its unique set of rights and responsibilities. In order to comprehend the implications of owning an NPRI or NEMI, it’s necessary to examine the specifics of these interests.

What is a Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI)?

A Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI) refers to an interest in oil and gas production that originates from the mineral estate. As an NPRI owner, you have a share in the earnings derived from the oil extraction beneath your property’s surface. However, you do not bear any of the costs associated with mineral production on the property.

The NPRI owner doesn’t enjoy all the privileges of the executive owner. They lack the authority to negotiate or execute oil and gas leases and don’t have the right to access the land for extracting hydrocarbons. Despite these limitations, an NPRI owner does have a claim to gross production, including petroleum oil, but lacks the authority to execute a lease.

What is a Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI)?

Although a Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI) is a type of mineral interest, similar to an NPRI, it operates under a distinct set of rules. Within the oil and gas sector, a NEMI refers to a mineral interest where the owner lacks the authority to enter into an oil and gas lease.

Though the holder of a NEMI cannot execute an oil and gas lease, they can still enjoy other privileges. The ownership of fossil fuels such as oil and gas and the collection of royalties from these are part and parcel of the NEMI holder’s rights.

NPRI vs NEMI: What's the Difference?

illustration of old oil field in venice beach california

At a glance, NPRI and NEMI might seem similar, but they have some key differences. An NPRI owner has a claim to a portion of production revenues without assuming costs, and they lack decision-making authority concerning the mineral property. On the other hand, NEMI owners waive their leasing rights but maintain a stake in bonus and royalty payments from the mineral lease, without involvement in lease execution.

The creation and transfer processes for these interests also differ. An NPRI can be established through a specific conveyance or reservation related to a specific parcel of land, allowing the original owner to maintain a royalty interest. In contrast, the creation of a NEMI requires the owner’s consent to pool their interest with other oil and gas interests.

With the growing sophistication of landowners, the deeds grow more complicated. This raises the chance that the text won't have the same legal definition one party wants them to have.

By their dictionary definitions, the difference between royalty and mineral interest is clear. Mineral interests have five rights that are severable as it's whole:

  • To develop

  • Executive right (grant leases)

  • Bonus payment

  • Delay rentals

  • Royalties

Royalty interests merely refer to the landowner's production share. As stated already, this is free from oil and gas exploration and production costs.

NPRIs are a non-possessory interest. This means the owner can't extract the minerals themselves. There is none of the above rights except that of royalties unless stated otherwise.

The concept of their distinction, too has a clear definition, but in practice, it gets trickier. For example, say you have a grant that gives an undivided mineral interest of 4/16. It later conveys executive rights as well as the right to receive delayed rentals.

Questions this example raises are first, what rights does the grantor keep? Does the grant also give the right to bonuses as well as delay rentals? What is the significance, and how does it affect operators who now must pay each party their fair share?

If the grantor retains an NPRI or NEMI must be clear, as this plays a huge part in total monies entitled to the party. If someone has a 4/16 NPRI, then they own 4/16 of the mineral production.

If the party owns a NEMI of 4/16, in reference to their royalties, they own 4/16 of that total royalty from the lease. If that interest is then leased at a 1/5 royalty rate, this works out at a 4/16 share of 1/5. In total, this amounts to 1/20.

Comparison with Other Mineral Interests

Having defined NPRI and NEMI, let’s examine their comparison with other mineral interests. In addition to NEMIs and NPRIs, other types of mineral interests include:

Each of these interests comes with its unique features. For instance:

  • An NPRI represents a stake in the revenue generated from mineral sales

  • A Working Interest (WI) denotes the responsibility for covering the expenses related to exploration, drilling, and production

  • NEMI shares similarities with mineral interest, but the owner lacks the authority to execute an oil and gas lease.

On the other hand, ORRI represents a portion of the royalty interest that is specifically reserved for the oil and gas company, which includes their oil reserves. It is usually interest carved out of the working interest and expires when the oil and gas lease expires.

The Creation and Transfer of NEMIs and NPRIs

Two oil and gas mineral owners transact on minerals

Knowing how to create and transfer NEMIs and NPRIs is a key step in effective management of these mineral interests. The process of establishment and transfer of these interests is governed by specific legal documentation and procedures.

How are NEMIs Created?

A property becomes a Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI) when the original owner of the mineral rights decides to separate their executive rights from the mineral rights. This separation can occur either through inheritance or through a specific transaction where they retain a non-executive stake in the minerals while giving up their executive rights.

Establishing a NEMI requires legal agreements that define the ownership, rights, and restrictions related to executing oil and gas leases for the interest. These agreements explicitly set forth the limitations of non-executive stakeholders in regard to these executive decisions.

How are NPRIs Created?

The creation of a Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI) involves explicitly separating the entitlement to royalty under an oil and gas lease from the mineral estate through a grant or reservation in a deed.

It’s important to note that it is indeed possible to create NPRIs on mineral interests that are already leased.

Transferring NEMI & NPRI Ownership

Transferring ownership of an NPRI or NEMI involves a process called conveyance, the legal procedure for transferring ownership from one individual to another.

The transfer process generally involves deeds and other legal documents, and documentation of consent is required for the transfer of NEMI and NPRI. The specifics of this transfer process can vary, and it’s always recommended to engage legal counsel to ensure a smooth transaction.

Valuation and Income from NEMIs & NPRIs

Having established what NPRIs and NEMIs are and their creation and transfer process, it’s time to explore their financial aspects.

This section will explore the factors that affect the value of these interests and how they generate income.

Factors Affecting NEMI Value

The value of a Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI) is influenced by numerous factors, including:

  • The geographical location of the minerals

  • Depth or wellbore restrictions if at any

  • Their current production status

  • Whether they are leased or unleased

  • The royalty amount

Market conditions, such as fluctuations in oil and natural gas prices, can also significantly impact the value of a NEMI. The production volume of oil and natural gas on the property directly affects the royalty revenues, which in turn influences the value of the NEMI.

Factors Affecting NPRI Value

Just like NEMIs, the value of Non-Participating Royalty Interests (NPRIs) is also influenced by several factors. Economic factors, including the cost of obtaining information, the presence of production and revenue, and oil and gas market volatility, have a substantial influence on NPRI value.

The location of minerals can significantly affect the value of an NPRI. Some factors to consider include:

  • Minerals located in newer and more active regions tend to command a higher value compared to those in older fields with conventional wells.

  • Geological factors, such as the depth and accessibility of the minerals, can impact the valuation of NPRI.

  • Potential environmental or regulatory concerns in certain areas may also affect the value of NPRI.

These factors should be taken into account when assessing the value of an NPRI.

Income Generation from NEMIs & NPRIs

oil executives in office negotiating oil lease

Income from NEMIs is generated through lease bonuses executed by the executive mineral holder and royalties from the production of minerals on the property.

Income from NPRIs is generated only through royalties from the production of minerals on the property. NPRI owners do not share the proceeds from a lease bonus. These royalties provide a steady income stream for the owners of these interests, even without direct involvement in the extraction process.

In addition to royalties, other forms of income can be generated from these interests. For instance, after the production of oil, it is transported to refineries or ports for further shipment. This transportation phase is essential for realizing the commercial value of the oil and natural gas, which directly influences the income for NEMI and NPRI holders as the price of a barrel of oil and cubic foot of natural gas directly effective the valuation of the interest.

Tax Implications of Owning an NPRI or NEMI

uncle sam collecting oil guys money

Ownership of an NPRI or NEMI carries tax implications. These interests are subject to federal income tax, and the way they are taxed can vary depending on the specifics of the interest and the individual’s tax bracket.

Federal Income Tax

The income generated from an NPRI is subject to a flat federal income tax rate of 30% on the gross income. In contrast, the federal income tax rates for income derived from a NEMI align with the standard federal income tax rates, as opposed to the flat rate applied to NPRI income.

Depletion Allowance

Aside from federal income tax, both NPRI and NEMI owners also have the right to claim a depletion allowance on their taxes. This tax deduction accounts for the reduction of the mineral asset resulting from extraction or depletion and serves as an incentive for investors.

The depletion allowance impacts the income from NPRI and NEMI by applying a 15% reduction to the taxable gross income of a productive well’s property, reducing the amount of income that is subject to federal income tax.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Investing in NPRIs & NEMIs

While investing in NPRI and NEMI can be profitable, it’s not devoid of challenges. Let’s explore the potential benefits and pitfalls of investing in these types of mineral interests.

Benefits of NPRI Ownership

Ownership of a Non-Participating Royalty Interest (NPRI) yields economic benefits by generating a passive income stream through royalties, providing a consistent monthly income, and enabling diversification of investment portfolios.

Moreover, owning an NPRI can offer tax benefits, such as being subject to taxation as investment income. Additionally, there is the potential to take advantage of favorable treatments, such as depletion allowances, which can effectively lower the tax liability.

Benefits of NEMI Ownership

Owning a Non-Executive Mineral Interest (NEMI) also carries several advantages, including:

  • Getting a share of the well’s revenue

  • Avoiding any costs related to drilling or operation

  • Receiving a portion of the bonus and rental income from oil and gas leases.

Risks and Challenges

Despite the potential benefits, owning an NPRI or NEMI comes with its challenges. For NPRI owners, the lack of decision-making authority concerning the mineral property can be a significant drawback. Market fluctuations can also have a substantial impact on the value of both NPRI and NEMI in the oil and gas industry as they are directly correlated with commodity prices.

Potential legal conflicts may arise due to the differing rights associated with NPRI and NEMI ownership. NPRI owners may face disputes over production shares, while NEMI owners may encounter conflicts related to the allocation and payment of lease royalties.

What Does the Law Say?

oil and gas attorneys discuss oil deal

Ownership of an NPRI or NEMI requires comprehension of not only financial implications but also legal aspects. Let’s explore the laws governing these interests.

Laws on NPRIs

The case of Watkins v. Slaughter, from the Supreme Court of Texas, provides an interesting perspective on the legal interpretation of NPRI. The court ruled that the appellants would regain the title and possession of the land, with the exception of a nonparticipating perpetual royalty interest equal to 1/6 of the gross minerals produced from the land.

This deed conveyed 15/16 mineral interest. It then gave a 1/16 interest in all gas, oil, and minerals, both surface and subsurface. It stated though, that the grantor would not receive any rental money shares from future leases. The grantee would have authority on leasing and receive the rental and cash bonuses. The grantor will only get their royalty stated from actual mineral production.

It was upheld that it was a royalty, noting the reservation mentions of the royalty within. The grantor only got royalties from production. The grantee had executive rights, bonuses, and rental incomes.

This ruling emphasized the importance of understanding the legal implications of owning an NPRI. It highlighted that the reservation in the deed was intended to represent royalty, inferred from the language utilized in the deed and the established definition of the term ‘royalty’ within the oil and gas industry.

Laws on NEMIs

On the other hand, the regulations governing Non-Executive Mineral Interests (NEMIs) in the Permian Basin specify that the owner of a NEMI is required to provide consent for its interest to be combined with other oil and gas interests.

Most cases falling into the mineral interest camp had complexity. They often referred to interest that included another part of the mineral estate. Take the Altman vs Blake case, for example.

The grantor left out the executive rights and the right to delay rentals from the deed. They did grant the right of access to explore and produce. The deed also left out the term royalty in its entirety.

It was upheld that this deed provided a mineral interest. The difference is that two of its five attributes were not granted as opposed to mineral interest as a whole. Remember, these attributes are severable from the whole and each other.

Potential legal conflicts may arise due to the varying rights associated with NEMI ownership. For instance, the transfer of a non-executive mineral interest can lead to the forfeiture of the right to directly lease the interest. Additionally, conflicts of interest may arise between the executive owner and the non-executive owner during such a transfer.

Tips for Buying and Selling NEMIs & NPRIs

For those interested in buying or selling NPRIs and NEMIs, it’s important to consider several factors for a successful transaction. Most importantly, location is key. If you are going to own a mineral interest you will want to own interest in the most prolific oil basins such the Midland basin and Delaware basin which are subbasins within the Permian basin of West Texas. Owning a mineral interest located in the core areas of the Permian basin can reach valuations as high as $100,000 per royalty acre when oil prices are well over $100 per barrel.

It is also important to understand the geological formations such as the Spraberry Trend and Wolfcamp Shale plays. In core areas of the Wolfcamp Shale play there are multiple stacked formations which are named Wolfcamp A, Wolfcamp B, Wolfcamp C and so on. The Sprayberry Trend is much more shallow than Wolfcamp and only reached depths of around 8700-9000 feet below the surface.

Tips for Buyers

When purchasing NPRIs or NEMIs, due diligence is vital. This involves conducting a thorough review of the associated mineral, oil, and gas properties to evaluate their value, potential risks, and any existing agreements or encumbrances.

Besides due diligence, other common mistakes to avoid when purchasing an NPRI or a NEMI include investing in non-producing minerals, investing in interest located in unproven geological areas, and investing in interests with poor lease terms.

Owning all depths is essential to mineral and royalty interest ownership. Having a depth or wellbore restricted interest will only significantly decrease the value of the interest and therefore limit the number of parties interested in acquiring the interest in the future.

Hire a landman to located and evaluate the interest and possibly perform a title opinion when buying to ensure the interest is what you expect it to be without limitations that could hinder collecting future revenues.

Use the best software possible to gain an edge on data and move as fast as possible. Consider taking a look at an oil and gas crm that can manage the deal flow pipeline if you intend on performing a high volume of transactions.

Tips for Sellers

For sellers, it’s often advisable to engage legal counsel to ensure a smooth transaction. A common mistake to avoid is attempting to sell NPRI or NEMI independently.

In order to determine the fair market price, it is advisable to estimate the fair market value of your mineral rights by taking into account factors such as production potential, current market conditions, and comparable sales.

It is advisable to know exactly how many acres you owe before selling. Do not allow the buyer to tell you what you own without performing a title opinion of your own. This will give you an understanding of what you are transaction without surprises and present you with an edge during negotiations.

Using Halsell to Find and Locate Mineral and Royalty Interests in Texas

Halsell oil and gas crm

Halsell is a useful tool for those who are interested in finding and locating mineral and royalty interests in Texas, including NPRIs and NEMIs. The database contains information on all the mineral owners in the state of Texas, including working interest, overriding royalty interests, and royalty interests in every county located in Texas.

Halsell can assist in the location of NPRI and NEMI in Texas by furnishing information and resources concerning these interests.

NPRI vs NEMI: Know The Difference

Recognizing the difference between NPRI and NEMI is key to making knowledgeable decisions about buying and selling these interests. The fundamental distinction between NPRI and NEMI lies in the fact that NPRI is characterized by a non-possessory interest, wherein the owner is not permitted to extract the minerals, whereas NEMI represents a form of mineral interest that does not confer the right to extract the minerals.


oil executives in office negotiating oil lease

In the realm of mineral rights, distinguishing between NPRI and NEMI can lead to substantial opportunities. With their potential for generating passive income and offering tax benefits, these interests hold great potential for savvy investors. However, it’s essential to note that these benefits come with their unique set of challenges, including legal disputes and market volatility.

Before entering into any conveyancing, it's important to know what you're looking at, be that an NPRI or a NEMI. Are you happy to receive or pay out royalties only, or are there some rights you wish to keep/get?

NEMIs are flexible but beware that the language may not have the legality you intend it to. That's why you should work with a professional land conveyancer to draw up any agreements.

Regardless of whether you’re an experienced investor or a beginner, gaining proficiency in the nuances of NPRI and NEMI could be your gateway to reaping the benefits of the oil and gas industry in the greater Permian Basin.

Understanding the intricacies of NPRI and NEMI can be your key to unlocking the benefits of the oil and gas industry. Whether it’s generating a steady income stream, receiving valuable tax deductions, or investing in a profitable asset, these interests offer a wealth of opportunities. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential pitfalls, including legal disputes and market volatility. With a well-informed approach, you can navigate the world of mineral rights with confidence and poise.

If you are going to engage to the acquisition and divestiture of mineral rights whether it be mineral and royalty interests or working interests, using Halsell's oil and gas crm would be of utmost importance in gaining an edge over competitors as they have the data already complied in an organized manner to help companies move quickly through the acquisition and divestiture process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What distinguishes NPRI ownership from NEMI ownership?

NPRI, which stands for Non-Participating Royalty Interest, represents a non-possessory interest that entitles the owner to a share of the revenue generated from the sale of oil and gas, without the authority to extract the minerals. On the other hand, NEMI, or Non-Executive Mineral Interest, denotes a form of mineral interest in which the owner lacks the right to lease or develop the land but may partake in other advantages associated with the property.

How are net mineral acres calculated?

Net mineral acres are calculated by multiplying the mineral interest by the gross acreage of the tract.

What are the tax implications of selling a mineral royalty interest?

Selling a mineral royalty interest can result in capital gains taxes, but the tax rate is generally lower than ordinary income tax. It is advisable to consult a CPA to navigate the tax implications of the transaction.

What is the difference between working interest (WI) and overriding royalty interest (ORRI)?

WI is an ownership interest that gives the owner rights to explore, develop, and produce minerals, while ORRI is a non-operating interest that gives the owner rights to a percentage of production revenue from a well or mine.

What are the benefits of buying mineral royalty interests?

Buying mineral royalty interests can provide a steady stream of income and the rights to a percentage of the minerals produced from a property. It can also give the owner the ability to influence the development of the property.

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