Saturday, September 26, 2009

Opera: Finances Led to Drilling

Albuquerque Journal North

Saturday, September 26, 2009

By Polly Summar
Journal Staff Writer

"The Santa Fe Opera's general director says financial obligations led the opera to lease mineral rights it owns on land north of Las Vegas, N.M., for oil and gas drilling.

Opera general director Charles MacKay signed a lease between the opera and J Bar Cane, Inc., in April, giving the company permission to drill on more than 26,000 acres in Mora and San Miguel counties. It was filed in Mora County last month.

"We had no recourse other than to sell or lease these rights in order to maximize their benefit to the Opera and to meet the organization's fiduciary obligations," MacKay said in a statement issued Friday.

MacKay said the opera received a bequest from a long-time donor in December 2002 that included a share in the mineral rights for the land. "We do not own the property itself, just a portion of the mineral rights," MacKay said in the statement.

John M. Richardson, who owns J Bar Cane, a petroleum land management firm based in Stanley, said Friday his company assembles drilling prospects for other companies. "We bought those leases for a client," said Richardson, adding that he can't reveal the client's name.

"As far as I know, they (the client) don't have any plans to do anything soon or we would have been involved to lay the groundwork for drilling locations," Richardson said.

Drilling plans in Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Mora counties have provoked intense opposition in recent years over environmental concerns. The news that the opera had leased rights for drilling — first posted on the Internet on Thursday by the anti-drilling groups Drilling Santa Fe and Drilling Mora County — provoked quick reaction. "

Johnny Micou with Drilling Santa Fe said Friday he'd received dozens of e-mails from people who are "appalled."

"Here we were with this huge public outcry (against drilling in the Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe over the past two years) and then the Santa Fe Opera turns around and goes to a poor county and leases nearly 27,000 acres for mineral exploration and development," Micou said.

Micou said many who've e-mailed Drilling Santa Fe and who support or attend the opera "are saying they're going to boycott the opera."

He said there were no clauses in the lease agreement signed between the opera and J Bar Cane providing any environmental protections or restrictions on drilling methods.

Kathleen Dudley with Drilling Mora County, asked: "Why would an arts company, a revered company, knowingly sign leases that would degrade an agricultural county?"

Dudley said if MacKay had agreed to similar terms in Santa Fe County, "he would have been tarred and feathered." More(subscription required)>>>>

Related Albuquerue Journal North article:

Opera Leases to Drillers

Journal Staff Report

"The Santa Fe Opera has leased more than 26,000 acres of land it owns in Mora and San Miguel counties for oil and gas drilling.

The lease between the opera and J Bar Cane, a New Mexico company listing a Stanley address, was signed in April but wasn't filed with the Mora County Clerk until Aug. 31.

The lease calls for the company, J Bar Cane, to make royalty payments to the opera equal to an eighth of the proceeds from oil and gas production on the land.

A Santa Fe Opera spokesperson said Thursday that no one was available who could comment on the lease. The anti-drilling groups Drilling Santa Fe has posted a copy of the lease documents on its Web site.

New oil and gas leases and applications for drilling permits have been controversial in several northern New Mexico counties in recent years. Santa Fe County imposed a moratorium on drilling in the Galisteo Basin before adopting a tough new drilling ordinance last year." More (subscription required)>>>>

See related post:

Recourse for mineral rights owners?

1 comment:

  1. I am very disappointed that the Santa Fe Opera Company would lease mineral rights to J Bar Cane in Mora County. This is a stupid decision - probably by an insensitive board top heavy with Texans- which will negatively impact their standing with the many citizens of Santa Fe County who worked hard to prevent inappropriate oil and gas drilling. How much money did they get? I hope it will offset their drop in ticket revenues.

    Barbara Briggs, Cerrillos.