DEFINITION of 'Energy Trust'

A type of corporation which exists solely to hold oil and gas mineral rights. Energy trusts pay out the lion's share of the profits they collect to their investors. Energy trusts are advantageous because they are exempt from corporate taxation if they distribute more than 90% of their earnings to investors. In this way, energy trusts are similar to the better known real estate investment trusts (REITs).

BREAKING DOWN 'Energy Trust'

Energy trusts differ slightly between Canada and the United States. Canadian energy trusts are able to add new mineral properties to the trust, thus providing for an indefinite life as an actively managed mineral investment fund. U.S. energy trusts may not acquire new properties, and thus are born with a fixed quantity of reserve assets which decline gradually as the minerals are mined and sold. Eventually, U.S. energy trusts run out of mineral assets and become worthless.

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