Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Working Interests


Working interests refers to a form of investment in oil and gas operations where the investor is directly involved in the exploration, development, and production process. The investor bear a portion of the operational costs, and in return receive a share of the revenue generated. It is considered a high-risk investment as the costs are incurred regardless of whether the project is successful or not.


‘Working Interests’ in phonetics is: /ˈwɜːrkɪŋ ˈɪntrəsts/

Key Takeaways

  1. Income Source: Working Interests involve the operational aspect of an oil and gas investment. As a working interest owner, one is directly participating in the exploration, operation or development of a mineral lease, resulting in the potential for a significant source of income.
  2. Risk and Cost Sharing: Owning a working interest also means sharing associated risks and costs. This includes the expenditures related to drilling, production, and other operational activities. Also, in the case of a dry or unsuccessful well, working interest owners bear the financial risk.
  3. Property Ownership: Working interest not only provides the right to conduct exploration and production operations, it also offers a portion of ownership in the oil and gas property, which may be sold, traded, or inherited, similar to other real estate properties.


Working Interests is an important term in business/finance as it refers to a form of investment in oil and gas operations, where the investor is directly involved in the exploration, production, and operation of the oil and gas wells. This carries significant importance as the investor is liable for a portion of the ongoing costs associated with exploration, drilling, and production, but in return, they receive a share of the revenue generated from the wells, if they are successful. Thus, the term represents the potential risks and rewards in the energy sector, impacting investment strategies and decisions. Understanding “working interests” is crucial for investors in these sectors to accurately assess potential profitability and return on investment.


The purpose of working interests pertains to the ownership and operational rights, often in oil and gas industries. Individuals or businesses who hold a working interest are primarily responsible for the exploration, development, and maintenance of a resource property. It means they have an active involvement in extracting the resources that drive their profits. Essentially, a working interest gives its holder a share in both the costs and the potential profits. In the oil and gas industry, the purpose of a working interest is to distribute the risk and cost of drilling between different parties.Working interests are a significant financial tool as they provide a means for businesses to invest in potentially lucrative ventures without bearing the full cost and risk. Typically, those who have this interest have an advantage in terms of increasing their potential returns. It is also used as a strategic avenue for diversifying their portfolio. In the oil and gas industry, multiple businesses can share in a working interest, diversifying the risk among several entities. However, the use of this term can extend beyond petroleum industries and apply to any situation where one party performs work on resources owned by another party in exchange for a portion of profits.


1. Oil and Gas Industry: In this industry, working interest is a common practice. For instance, consider a group of companies that decide to establish a joint venture in a new oil project. One company may hold 40% of the working interest, another company 30%, and the remaining held by other partners. Each company is responsible for its percentage share of the exploration and production costs in proportion to its working interest.2. Mining Projects: For example, a company might own a 30% working interest in a gold mining project. This means they are entitled to 30% of the gold mined (net of expenses) but are also responsible to pay for 30% of the operational costs. The working interest provides them a certain control over the project based on the percentage they own.3. Real Estate Development: Working interests can also be observed in real estate ventures. For example, two real estate developers might form a joint venture to develop a commercial building, and one developer might own a 60% working interest while the other owns 40%. Each party would then be obligated to cover their respective portions of the development costs and would share in the revenues or profits in accordance with their working interest.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Working Interest?

A Working Interest refers to the operational rights to explore, drill, and produce oil and gas located on a given leased parcel of land.

Who typically holds a working interest?

The working interest is generally held by the energy company or companies that have leased the land with all operational rights.

How are profits distributed from a working interest?

The owner of a working interest gains a profit from the net revenue of the oil and gas activities but also bear the operating expenses related to exploration, drilling, and production.

What is the difference between a working interest and a royalty interest?

A working interest refers to operational rights and responsibilities whereas a royalty interest entitles the owner to a portion of the production revenues without any responsibility for operating costs.

Does the working interest owner bear any risks?

Yes, a Working Interest owner bears the operational and financial risks related to the oil and gas activities, including unsuccessful operations or higher-than-expected operating costs.

Is working interest ownership permanent?

No, working interest ownership lasts only for the specifically contracted lease term. If the lease expires or is not renewed, the working interest owner loses their rights to the land.

Can a working interest be sold or transferred?

Yes, working interests can be sold or transferred to other parties at the working interest owner’s discretion.

What happens if a well is dried up?

If a well is dried up, the working interest owner is typically responsible for the costs associated with plugging the well and restoring the site.

Is a working interest considered a real property right?

Yes, a working interest is considered a type of real property right and could be subject to property taxes.

Can a working interest affect the value of a company’s stock?

Yes, a company’s stock value might be influenced by its working interests. Higher potential earnings from successful operations can increase a company’s stock value; conversely, unsuccessful operations or increased expenses can decrease its value.

Related Finance Terms

  • Joint Operating Agreement
  • Royalty Interest
  • Net Revenue Interest
  • Cost Burden
  • Overhead Costs

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More