What To Do When You Own The Mineral Rights But Not The Surface Rights

22 August 2016
 Categories: Environmental, Blog


Much has been made of situations where surface-owning residents awake to find an oil or gas company suddenly drilling in their yard because the owner of the mineral rights to that land signed a lease without telling the residents. There's advice about what the residents should do or be aware of, but what should the mineral rights owner do before signing that lease? If you own mineral rights but not surface rights to some land, there are things you can do to make the leasing and drilling processes easier on people already living there.

Safeguards in the Lease

As you negotiate the lease with an oil company that wants to drill on the land, add safeguards into the lease that protect people living at or near the site. These can include setting hours between which the company will drill, setting restrictions on where the company workers can go (for example, prohibiting them from walking through the residents' backyard without written permission from the resident), and setting requirements for daily cleanups at the site. Think about how you would want to be treated if you were the person living near the drilling site and word the lease accordingly.

Advance Notice

Find out who lives near the site and give them plenty of warning. Let them know—weeks ahead, or months ahead if possible—that you're negotiating a lease, that drilling might start, and so on. That gives residents time to adjust, either by leaving if they're renters, selling if they're surface owners, or modifying their schedules so that the drilling won't affect their home life that much. It's very possible that they won't be happy about the situation, but at least with adequate warning, the residents have time to figure out what they want to do.

Contact Point for Complaints

Because you don't live near the drilling site, you're not going to know about any lease violations or unforeseen problems. Set up a contact point so that the residents can inform you of anything that's not working for them. If you know the residents well, personal contact might be OK, but otherwise, have a lawyer such as the one who helps you negotiate the lease set up a neutral contact point, like that lawyer's office.

It is possible for oil drilling to be done rather unobtrusively. However, having safeguards in place, plus a place where the residents can send complaints, will make it a lot easier to ensure everything goes smoothly. For more information, contact local professionals like Martin Oil Company.