What are Intangible Drilling Costs?

Thursday, November 30th, 2023 and is filed under New Mexico Oil and Gas Investing, Oil and Gas Current Events, Oil and Gas Fun Facts, Texas Oil and Gas Investing

Intangible Drilling Costs (IDC) are a critical element of the financial landscape in the oil and gas industry. These costs encompass various non-physical expenses incurred during the exploration and drilling of oil and gas wells. What sets intangible drilling costs apart is their intangible nature, as they are related to activities and services essential for the drilling process but do not involve the acquisition of physical assets like drilling rigs or equipment. IDCs are tax-deductible expenses in the United States and are designed to incentivize domestic energy production. IDC deductions allow drilling companies––and any private investment partners participating directly alongside them––to reduce their taxable income.

What are intangible drilling costs?

What are intangible drilling costs?

Intangible drilling costs (IDCs) encompass various non-physical expenses incurred during the exploration and drilling of oil and gas wells.

Intangible Drilling Costs Include:

1. Permitting and Licensing Fees
2. Consulting and Professional Services
3. Lease Costs and Mineral Rights
4. Geophysical and Geological Surveys
5. Testing and Logging Costs
6. Salaries and Wages

IDCs Explained:

  1. Permitting and Licensing Fees: These costs are incurred to obtain the necessary governmental permits and licenses to conduct drilling activities. They ensure that drilling operations adhere to regulations and maintain legal compliance.
  2. Consulting and Professional Services: These expenses cover fees paid to consultants and experts who provide specialized knowledge and advice. Services range from geological and engineering consultations to legal and regulatory guidance, safety and environmental assessments, and financial analysis. Consulting and professional services are crucial for making informed decisions and optimizing drilling operations.
  3. Lease Costs and Mineral Rights: These costs encompass expenses related to securing the rights to explore, develop, and produce oil and gas on specific properties or land. This category includes lease acquisition fees, rentals, and royalty payments to property owners and mineral rights holders. Securing these rights is fundamental as it grants the legal authority to access and develop subsurface resources.
  4. Geophysical and Geological Surveys: These costs involve gathering data about subsurface conditions through methods like seismic, magnetic, and gravity surveys. These surveys are essential for assessing the feasibility of drilling in a specific location, identifying potential reserves, and understanding geological structures.
  5. Testing and Logging Costs: This category includes expenses related to laboratory tests and well-logging activities. These tests provide crucial data on rock properties, fluid content, and the potential for hydrocarbon extraction, helping drilling companies make informed decisions about drilling techniques and well design.
  6. Salaries and Wages: Labor costs for personnel involved in drilling operations, including drillers, geologists, engineers, and other staff, are an essential component of IDC. These wages cover the skilled workforce necessary to execute drilling projects safely and efficiently.

Intangible Drilling Costs Tax Treatment

Intangible Drilling Cost deductions are applicable for the year in which an investment is made, even if the well does not start drilling until March 31st of the following year. To see how much a qualified, approved investor could potentially reduce their tax liability with a direct investment in O&G exploration with Aresco, check out our hypothetical tax deduction calculator.


Each of these IDC components plays a vital role in ensuring the successful and responsible exploration and production of oil and gas resources. Their tax-deductible nature encourages investment in the oil and gas industry and promotes domestic energy production.


The above general discussion is provided for background information only. This information is not intended to be individual advice. Prospective participants should consult with their personal tax professional regarding the applicability and effect of any and all benefits for their own personal tax situation. In addition, tax laws change from time to time and there is no guarantee regarding the interpretation of any tax laws regarding tax-deductible investments. Oil and gas tax deductions 2023 did not change significantly from oil and gas tax deductions 2022. For more information, please visit www.irs.gov.

For more on the advantages of oil and gas investing:

Tax Deductible Investments – Oil Investment Tax Breaks

7 Tax Deductions and Advantages Available for Direct Oil and Gas Investments

Oil and Gas Tax Deductions Lure Investors

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