Investing in Oil and Gas Royalties Through a Self-Directed IRA
Last summer, we shared information on investing in energy assets through a self-directed IRA, including investments in mineral rights. Digging a bit further, some self-directed investors choose to include oil and gas royalties in their self-directed retirement plans. Let’s look at how that works.
What is a royalty interest in mineral rights?
In general, royalties are ongoing revenue streams based on production (in the case of energy assets) or licensing/usage (for intellectual property). In the case of oil and gas royalties in a self-directed IRA, the retirement plan owns a portion of the revenue that the oil or gas wells produce.
While most self-directed investors don’t have the equipment and financing needed to explore, extract, and produce oil or natural gas themselves, they can passively earn a royalty from the producing company that leases the land in exchange for access to it (and the ability to produce these energy assets).
How is the investment structured?
There are a couple of common scenarios. The first of which is when the oil/gas company leases land from a property owner (the IRA in this case), with mineral rights as part of the lease; this gives the producer access to the goods that lie beneath the surface (oil, natural gas, uranium, coal, etc.). The property owner is paid a percentage of the total production by the company—so if your self-directed IRA owns the land, the IRA will receive that income as landowner.
As an alternative to the above scenario, the IRA may choose to instead purchase mineral rights to the resources below the surface on a per-acre basis. The IRA then leases those mineral rights to the production company, which keeps its share of the revenue and distributes monthly royalty payments to the self-directed IRA.
These monthly royalty payments can range from a traditional 12.5% in the oil industry to upwards of 25%, depending on what is negotiated. The investor that owns the mineral rights—in this case, the self-directed IRA—may choose to sell those rights in the future for a profit. With profits flowing into the IRA, tax on those earnings would either be deferred or eliminated (in the case of a Roth IRA).
Benefits of mineral rights investments
- The production company is responsible for all exploration and extraction operations while the self-directed IRA passively collects an ongoing revenue stream.
- Unlike commercial and vacation property real estate investments, there are very little ongoing costs incurred by the investor, since the producer is dealing with expenses associated with working the land.
- Similar to real estate investments in self-directed IRAs, diversification is available within one asset class. Your self-directed IRA can invest in multiple oil and gas fields simultaneously—and collect royalties from these – or buy and sell as desired (with all income and expenses flowing through the retirement plan).
As with all self-directed investments, account holders are encouraged to conduct full due diligence about mineral rights investments and different energy assets, to fully understand how mineral rights work and the mechanics of land leases to energy producers.
At Next Generation, we’re here to answer questions you have about many types of non-publicly traded, alternative assets, including oil/gas. You may schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives to discuss the nontraditional investments allowed through self-direction. Additionally, you may enjoy free access to our on-demand webinars and blog articles that cover many topics related to self-direction as a retirement strategy.