Office of Natural Resources Revenue

From Open Energy Information

Office of Natural Resources Revenue is an organization based in Denver, CO.

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) has its roots within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Regulations of 1936, which provided that the Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) had the discretion to determine value for royalty purposes. In June 1981, President Reagan authorized the creation of the “Linowes Commission” to examine the fiscal accountability of the nation’s energy resources. In January 1982, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) was created within DOI from the Conservation Division of the USGS to improve management of Federal leasing revenues. There were two operational programs within MMS: Offshore Energy and Minerals Management, and the Minerals Revenue Management (MRM) program.

In May 2010, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued Secretarial Order No. 3299 separating the MMS responsibilities into three distinct organizations, one of which was ONRR. Issued in June 2010, Secretarial Order No. 3302 formally eliminated the former MMS and created the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). Effective October 1, 2010, the functions of MRM officially transferred to ONRR, reporting to the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget.

ONRR is responsible for the management of revenues associated with federal offshore and federal and American Indian onshore mineral leases, as well as revenues received as a result of offshore renewable energy efforts. This revenue management effort is one of the federal government’s greatest sources of non-tax revenues.

ONRR is comprised of three program areas including Asset Management, Audit and Compliance Management, and Financial and Program Management. Each year, ONRR achieves optimal value by ensuring that all natural resources revenues are efficiently and accurately collected and disbursed to recipients in a timely manner. The ONRR collects and disburses approximately $10 billion in annual revenues to the U.S. Treasury, five Federal agencies, 38 states, 41 American Indian Tribes, and about 30,000 individual Indian mineral owners.

In FY 2011, ONRR’s Financial Management program disbursed* more than $11.16 billion to the following recipients:

  • $2.0 billion directly to states and eligible political subdivisions, such as counties and parishes
  • $6.05 billion to the U.S. Treasury
  • $538 million to 34 American Indian Tribes and 30,000 individual American Indian mineral owners
  • $1.53 billion to the Reclamation Fund for water projects
  • $892 million to the Land & Water Conservation Fund
  • $150 million to the Historic Preservation Fund

A complete breakout of FY 2011 disbursements is available on our Statistics Page. There, you can also find ONRR statistical disbursements on previous years and on other reported information such as Lease Data and Reported Royalty Revenues.

ONRR also ensures that the nation’s federal and American Indian natural resources revenues are accurately reported and paid in compliance with laws, regulations and lease terms. In FY 2011 ACM completed 1059 compliance reviews and 311 audits. Since 1982 ONRR has collected $3.9 billion in additional royalties due to compliance activities. Where Are We Located?

How Does All of This Work?

Every American benefits from the revenues generated from mineral and renewable energy resources, either directly through payments to tribes and individual Indian mineral owners, or indirectly though contributions to the Historic Preservation Fund, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Reclamation Fund, States, and disbursements to the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury.

The process begins as some federal lands are leased to individuals and companies for natural resources development. Lease holders competitively bid, initially pay a bonus, and subsequently rent, for the right to develop the resources on these onshore and offshore lands. Within the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is responsible for offshore federal leasing, the Bureau of Land Management is responsible for federal onshore leasing, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs coordinates leasing on Indian lands.

The ONRR acts on behalf of the American people to manage the royalties, rents, bonuses and other revenues generated throughout the leasing process. Using sophisticated, computerized accounting systems, ONRR processes, or collects, approximately $1 billion each month. Bonuses, rents and royalties from more than 62,000 leases can amount to several billion dollars each year -- an amount that peaked to more than $23 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 and has averaged $13 billion annually during the past five years.

The distribution of revenues associated with onshore federal lands is generally split between the states and the Federal Government. Based on legislation, 49 percent of the money is distributed directly to the state within which the specific lease is located; 40 percent is sent to the Reclamation Fund of the U.S. Treasury, which finances the Bureau of Reclamation's water projects in 17 western states; and the remaining 10 percent goes to the Treasury's General Fund. Per provisions of the Alaskan Statehood Act, Alaska gets a 90 percent share of the revenues from certain leases.

For offshore leases, ONRR distributes the collected money to U.S. Treasury accounts. In recent years, annual deposits have included nearly $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and $150 million to the Historic Preservation Fund. The remainder is sent to the U.S. Treasury's General Fund. Additionally, a portion of royalties from certain offshore federal leases, adjacent to seaward boundaries of coastal states, are shared with eligible states and coastal political subdivisions.

The ONRR, in conjunction with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, provides revenue management services for mineral leases on American Indian lands. Money collected for Indian mineral leases is returned -- l00 percent -- to respective Indian tribes and individual Indian mineral owners through the Office of Trust Funds Management.


  1.  "ONRR Website"