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Unearthing Value: The States Dominating in Mineral Rights

Unearthing Value: The States Dominating in Mineral Rights

Discover the hidden wealth lying beneath our feet and the states leading the charge in mineral rights.

Exploring the complex world of mineral rights in the United States reveals a landscape as varied as the minerals under the ground. Every state, from Texas with its abundant oil fields to West Virginia’s coal-rich mountains, has its own story about the valuable minerals below the surface and the rights associated with them. Let’s take a closer look at mineral rights and discover where the valuable resources are being found across the country.

What are Mineral Rights?

Mineral rights are legal entitlements that allow the holder to explore, extract, and profit from the minerals below the surface of a piece of land. These rights can be owned separately from the land itself, meaning someone can own the rights to the minerals underground without owning the land above it. The types of minerals covered under these rights span a wide range, including hydrocarbons like oil and natural gas, metallic minerals such as gold, silver, and iron, and non-metallic minerals like coal, quartz, and even gravel.

Impact of Horizontal Drilling

Horizontal drilling has revolutionized the mineral rights landscape in the U.S. This technology allows for drilling wells that turn horizontally within the earth, exposing more of the mineral layer and significantly increasing extraction rates. Its impact on mineral rights has been significant, making previously uneconomical reserves accessible and changing the game for many states with underground resources.

States Dominating in Mineral Rights

The United States is a large and geologically varied nation, featuring many states where mineral rights play a big role in property ownership and economic growth. To know where these rights are most common, we need to consider areas rich in valuable minerals and with a strong history of mining and drilling. States such as Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana stand out not just for producing energy but also for their active roles in the mineral rights market.

Let’s go over the states where mineral rights are most prevalent and the resources that make them stand out.


The king of oil, Texas’s vast reserves have made it a hotspot for oil and gas investors. In addition to oil and gas, Texas also produces sulfur and salt from drilling activities. These byproducts are highly valuable for industrial uses, showcasing the state’s extensive mineral resources beyond just oil. The state is also a major source of limestone, which is widely used in construction and industry, contributing to a strong mineral ownership environment in the state.


Known for its rich oil and natural gas deposits, Oklahoma has a long history of energy production. Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas reserves are vital not only for powering vehicles and homes but also for driving the state’s economic development. Drilling operations are integral to Oklahoma’s identity and heritage. Oklahoma’s mining sector is significantly supported by mineral deposits such as coal, gypsum, and limestone. These minerals provide a variety of applications, from energy production to construction.


Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes Louisiana an important player in both oil and natural gas. Louisiana’s oil rigs symbolize the significant role of mineral rights in the state. Royalties and payments from these operations frequently contribute a major portion of income for individuals and organizations. Louisiana is also rich in salt and sulfur, essential for many industrial processes. The extraction of these minerals, regulated under the same rules as oil and gas, enriches the state’s mineral rights landscape.

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With untapped reserves, Alaska’s oil fields are among the most productive in the country. Alaska’s North Slope, especially the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field, is a key oil-producing area, ranking among North America’s largest oil fields. This region’s mineral rights are vital to Alaska’s economy, with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System playing an essential role in transporting crude oil to markets. Alaska’s history is rich with mineral mining, including gold, which triggered the Klondike Gold Rush, and other valuable metals. The state is a significant player in the mineral rights scene, with operations like the Red Dog Mine for zinc and lead, and projects like Pebble Mine for copper mining, highlighting its importance in the global mining industry.


Coal dominates in Wyoming, but oil and natural gas are also abundant. Wyoming’s Powder River Basin stands as a major center for American coal production, holding vast reserves vital for energy generation. Even with a decrease in coal demand, the state’s mineral rights in this area are a valuable asset. Wyoming’s mineral wealth extends beyond coal, including a variety of valuable resources. Its natural gas fields are a major economic contributor, and trona, used for soda ash, makes Wyoming a key global supplier. Uranium mining offers potential for future energy, while bentonite is notable for its unique applications, adding to the state’s diverse mineral rights portfolio.

West Virginia

Coal mining is a core part of West Virginia’s identity, deeply connected with the history and livelihood of many families and communities. The state’s mineral rights and economy are significantly shaped by the coal industry, even as energy trends and market demand change. Today, West Virginia’s mineral rights story also embraces the growing natural gas sector, supported by the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. Additionally, salt and limestone add to the state’s mineral rights diversity, each contributing to its industrial and economic landscape.


The birthplace of the oil industry in the U.S., Pennsylvania is now known for its Marcellus Shale gas. Pennsylvania’s story of mineral ownership is largely shaped by its coal and natural gas reserves. The state was historically central to the coal mining industry, especially known for its anthracite coal. Nowadays, the Marcellus Shale is a key area for natural gas extraction, leading to a significant surge in energy resource development. Limestone quarries and iron ore pits are significant to Pennsylvania’s history of early industrialization, reflecting the state’s strong steel manufacturing past. These resources supported the state’s industrial growth and continue to play a role in its current mineral rights environment.


Colorado’s mineral rights are diverse, with oil, natural gas, and coal in abundance. Colorado’s energy industry is greatly supported by its coal basins and natural gas fields. The extraction of these resources plays an important role in powering both the state and the country’s energy needs. Colorado’s history with gold dates back to the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush, with ongoing mining operations still tapping into its gold reserves. Molybdenum, vital for steel production, also holds an important place in Colorado’s mineral rights legacy, contributing significantly to the state’s mining sector.

New Mexico

A rising star in oil production, New Mexico also boasts significant natural gas reserves. The Permian Basin and San Juan Basin significantly contribute to the state’s leading position in oil and natural gas production. This region, rich in hydrocarbons, offers considerable opportunities and income for those who own mineral rights within the state. New Mexico is recognized for its copper mines, which are crucial for the electrical industry, and for potash, vital for farming. Additionally, the state has a notable history in uranium mining, which has contributed to its wealth but also posed environmental challenges.

North Dakota

The Bakken shale formation has put North Dakota on the map for oil extraction. This boom has greatly influenced the state’s economy and the ownership of mineral rights in North Dakota. While not as widely recognized, North Dakota’s lignite coal reserves play an essential role in the state’s energy sector, providing power locally and to the wider regional grid.

This overview of states with significant mineral rights highlights the variety and complexity found throughout the U.S. The advent of technologies like horizontal drilling continually reshapes the value and management of these underground assets. Everyone from mineral rights owners to property owners, and from investors to government entities, plays a part in the exploration, extraction, and management of these resources. Understanding the world of mineral rights is about recognizing the wealth beneath our feet and the legal and technological challenges that come with it. As we continue to unearth value from the ground, staying informed and engaged with the latest developments in mineral rights will be key to tapping into America’s vast underground wealth.

DW Energy has leveraged its expertise through partnerships with top operators globally in North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas, operating over 460 wells and producing 63 million barrels of oil in the last eleven years. These collaborations have given DW Energy Group access to significant opportunities in mineral rights and mineral ownership in some of the world’s premier oil and gas fields. Learn more about the benefits of owning oil and gas royalties by clicking here.

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