Do You Own the Oil and Gas Minerals Under Your Land?

Do You Own the Oil and Gas Minerals Under Your Land?

At LandGate, we do the best we can to answer all your questions. Here are some common questions landowners have about mineral rights:

  • There is a drilling rig on the property next door. Can I lease my minerals and get a well drilled?
  • I think I own the oil and gas mineral rights under my property, but my brother, who does not live on the property, says he owns them also.
  • I received a letter from a mineral buyer wanting to buy my oil, gas, and mineral rights in North Dakota. I live in Florida. How is that possible?
  • Why do I own the property, but not the mineral rights?
  • How can I only own a 6.25% interest in the oil, gas, and mineral rights?

So, let us start with a few basics. It is quite common to have different owners of the surface and minerals. The first time the property is sold, and all or a portion of the oil, gas, and mineral rights are reserved by the property owner (Grantor), then effectively the minerals have been severed from the surface, creating a surface estate and mineral estate. A Deed is the document used to transfer ownership in real property. If you find the following language in the Deed, the minerals have now been severed from the surface:

Notwithstanding anything contained herein to the contrary, Grantor reserves all of Grantor’s right, title, and interest in and to all the oil, gas, and other minerals in, on and under the described lands, including any and all royalties, bonus payments, delay rentals and other payments due and payable under any existing or future oil and gas lease (the “Mineral Rights”).

Surface ownership is much easier to determine than mineral ownership. As an example, surface owners pay property taxes. You can go to the county clerk’s office, county tax assessor website, or other databases to determine who is paying taxes and owns the surface.

Mineral ownership is much more complicated. Using the example below, the minerals were severed from the surface in 1905 when the Clampetts sold the surface to Mr. Drysdale. Not certain how many times the surface was sold after 1905, but to locate a mineral reservation, you would have to research the county records and read every deed with the same property description. It might take a title attorney or land professional 2 weeks to finally locate the 1905 deed and realize the minerals were severed from the surface.

Now, here is where it gets really complicated. In the example below, the minerals under the 640 ac ranch are currently owned by 16 different people. In most cases, when someone dies, 50 % of their real property is passed to the surviving spouse and the remaining 50% is split up between the children. For the ease of this example, assume each child had 2 children and both parents passed at the same time. Generally, an attorney specializing in the laws of descent and distribution would be required to accurately determine mineral title ownership.

Very seldom will a title attorney or a land professional be able to locate documents in the county courthouse that sets out how many children were born to a couple. It will take a tremendous amount of time and money to eventually identify these 16 people who each own a 6.25% interest in the 640-acre tract.

If an oil company wants to drill a well on the 640-acre tract, they will need to identify and locate each of the 16 oil and gas mineral owners and get them to sign an oil and gas lease.

Now, back to the difficult questions. If you want to know if you own a mineral interest or how big a mineral interest, LandGate can help. We are problem solvers and our team of land professionals can answer your mineral rights questions. To get started,visit landgate.com and claim ownership of your property on our map to see what your mineral rights could be worth.

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