The recent increase in urban drilling has raised several issues for oil and gas operators, one of which is the ownership of minerals under roads, easements, and other strips of land. Although the task of determining such ownership is far from new to operators, the increase in urban drilling and the drilling of horizontal, rather than vertical, wells has certainly made it more onerous. No matter how difficult it is to determine the mineral ownership, it must be completed if an operator is planning to drill under or within 330 feet of the tract. Attorneys and operators need to remember the strips of land are separate tracts of land and must be identified as such when applying for well permits. If an operator drills under a road that is not leased, then a trespass has been committed. At that point, the permit obtained by the operator may be invalid and the Railroad Commission could possibly shut-in the well. Regardless of whether the strip is a road, highway, railroad, or utility easement, ownership of the minerals can be determined through a two-step process: (1) identify how the strip was created and the resulting estate, and (2) determine the effect of subsequent conveyances of the strip and property adjacent thereto. Although this process can be used on all strips of land, regardless of their nature, this paper focuses mainly on roads for the sake of simplicity.
William G. Bredthauer & Shawna S. Rinehart,
Ownership and Leasing of Minerals Under Highways and Right-Of-Ways,
Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.37419/TWLR.V16.I1.2