May 2022, Vol. 249, No. 5


Unclaimed Funds in the Pipeline Industry

By Richard McDonough, North America Correspondent 

A number of businesses and organizations involved in the pipeline industry may have funds owed to them by states within the United States and provinces in Canada.  

These entities include ones based within the United States as well as firms headquartered in Canada and Mexico, as well as other countries throughout the world. Some of the businesses are among the largest global enterprises active in building, operating and maintaining pipelines, while others are small businesses with just a few employees at one site. 

What all of them have in common is that someone or some entity owed them money at some point in the past. It could be a payment for products or services, a refund, an insurance settlement, proceeds from the sale of stocks and bonds, a rebate or some other type of payment. It could also be monies in a bank account that a business or organization has not used for some time. 

If your entity does not take receipt – cash a check, for example – that is owed to you within a specific time period, the entity that owes you that money must typically send those funds to a specific state within the United States.  

If you don’t use a bank account for a specific period of time, the financial institution is typically required to send the monies in your bank account to a specific state within the country. 

That state then holds your monies as “unclaimed funds.” 

Please note that there are a variety of names for governmental entities within the United States. When referring to “state” or “states,” this article is also including such governmental entities as a “commonwealth” or “commonwealths,” as well as the District of Columbia. 

The amount of money may be modest in size – a few dollars, for example – or the unclaimed funds could total in the tens of thousands of dollars. 

While the specific laws vary from state to state, in essence, until you request your unclaimed funds, the monies are kept by the state. In many cases, your money is used for ongoing operations of the specific governmental entity. 

Beyond businesses and organizations, much of the unclaimed funds are owed to individuals. 

In addition to monies, the contents of safe deposit boxes are sent to a specific state within the country if you don’t access your safe deposit box for a specific period of time. Some states hold the actual contents of safe deposit boxes in storage; others sell the safe deposit box contents and instead hold the monies obtained from those sales. 

On occasion, states typically highlight the unclaimed funds through news releases and advertisements. States also provide information to databases that are available with some public information that may help someone locate their unclaimed funds. 

But, for the most part, it’s up to each business or organization – as well as each individual – to request their unclaimed funds. 

The problem, though, is that many have no idea that they have unclaimed funds. After all, how do you make a claim for funds that you don’t even know may be owed to you? 

Within the Industry 

Unclaimed funds appear to be due to a number of entities active in the pipeline industry. During the past couple of months, a number of these pipeline businesses and organizations have been contacted by P&GJ. Detailed information available through public records was provided to these entities. 

According to public records, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the states of Florida and Maryland appear to be holding monies due to the American Gas Association (AGA). These unclaimed funds are from a state governmental entity to a business services company and from a lodging business to utilities. 

“The American Gas Association is aware of these unclaimed funds and is working with states where these funds are being held to determine whether the organization has legal ownership, entitlement or right to possession of this property,” according to a statement from the AGA. 

In addition, a number of other entities active in the pipeline industry appear to have funds sitting in state capitols that are actually the property of those individual businesses and organizations.  

A few examples, without identifying the specific entities, include: 

  • A major utility with pipelines appears to have more than 100 separate instances of unclaimed funds due to the business. These funds are being held by states throughout the nation. 
  • A major pipeline company appears to have 49 separate cases where states are holding unclaimed funds from this pipeline business. 

Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas appear to be holding unclaimed funds from a large entity active in the pipeline industry. These unclaimed funds are ones coming from two telecommunications companies, a state department of revenue, a trash collection business and a bank, among other entities. 

An association of professionals active in the pipeline industry appears to have more than a dozen unclaimed funds owed to its national organization as well as its chapters. 

Even a federal agency appears to have unclaimed funds owed to it from a state governmental entity as well as a technology company. 

While several entities expressed thanks for the information, none of the individual businesses or other organizations chose to provide comments for this article. 

Some of these entities are in the process of doing their own research to determine if the unclaimed funds that appear to be owed to them are, in fact, monies actually owed to them. 

Origins of Funds 

How does money owed to your business or organization become unclaimed by your firm? 

Sometimes this occurs because a check was mailed to your enterprise, but the sending entity used an incorrect or incomplete postal address. 

Unclaimed funds can also occur when a check that was mailed with a correct address to your entity is delivered incorrectly to someone else. The person that actually received the letter, which was meant for your entity, may just dispose of that letter because they thought it was junk mail or they simply didn’t care to put the letter back into the U.S. Postal Service. 

Also, you may have received the check, but instead of opening the letter, you yourself may have thrown away the letter thinking that it was junk mail. Or, you may have chosen to open the letter, but instead of cashing the check, you may have lost it or forgotten to cash it. You also may have received the check but filed it in your records rather than cashing the check. 

Many of the individual states explicitly note that they would like to return unclaimed funds. 

“We really enjoy being able to get unclaimed property back to its rightful owners,” said a spokesperson for the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department. “The Department is happy to return unclaimed funds to anyone who can prove they are entitled to them.” 

“Treasury receives hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed property every year, often because of something as simple as a misspelled name or an out-of-date address,” according to a statement from Stacy Garrity, treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “But let’s be clear: this is your money we’re talking about, and I want to return it to you.” 

As noted above, some of the businesses and organizations contacted in the pipeline industry are still reviewing the information provided.  

Author: Richard McDonough writes about energy infrastructure-related issues in the United States, including the column “The Nuacht Of Pipelines.” He can be reached at 

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