Texas land is rich with resources such as oil, natural gas, and various other minerals. Because of this, property ownership in Texas is subject to numerous oil, gas, and mineral rights laws that may affect the property on which these resources are found. Mineral rights laws can be complex, leaving property owners confused about ownership and access rights, and numerous other areas of concern. It is important to discuss such concerns with experienced oil and gas lawyers, or mineral rights law firms when land is known to contain mineral resources. Understanding the rights of owners, in terms of minerals and other resource deposits, is essential. It requires the guidance of knowledgeable mineral, oil and gas attorneys for the best protection of the rights of property owners.
What Are Mineral Rights and Who Has Them?
Mineral rights in Texas are the rights to mineral deposits that exist under the surface of a parcel of property. This right normally belongs to the owner of the surface estate; however, in Texas those rights can be transferred through sale or lease to a second party. Experienced oil and gas lawyers tell clients that having a clear understanding of who has rights to minerals below the surface is essential to avoid disputes and complications that can arise when rights are unclear or challenged.
The Difference Between The Mineral Estate and The Surface Estate
Understanding the difference between the mineral estate and the surface estate is essential in understanding mineral rights. The surface estate is the visible land at the surface. The mineral estate is any minerals contained within that land, below the surface. Mineral rights law firms point out that the two estates are not the same, which is how mineral rights can be sold or leased.
Ownership, Transfer of, and Leasing of Mineral Estates and Rights
Property can be purchased with rights to both estates; however, ownership of the surface estate does not guarantee rights to the mineral estate below the surface. This is how mineral and surface rights become complicated, and why unsuspecting landowners may get less than they expect to when purchasing a piece of land. When not specified, mineral estates normally pass to the owner of the surface estate. It is also possible for landowners to sell the surface estate while retaining their rights of ownership in the mineral estate.
An owner of the mineral estate can lease their rights to companies to extract minerals from below the surface, which oftentimes requires access through the surface estate. When buying land, oil and gas attorneys advise that it is important that the mineral rights being sold with the property are actually owned by the person selling the surface estate. That person must own those rights in order to transfer them with the sale of the surface estate.
Mineral Rights Value and Negotiation
Experienced oil and gas lawyers state that value must first be determined when selling or leasing mineral rights. This can be complex, since it depends on many variables, including location of the land, minerals noted to be within the land, accessibility, proximity to other resources, and various other factors. Negotiating factors for buying or leasing mineral rights also include a contract regarding the way in which resources may be accessed, and how much disruption of the surface estate is permitted, as well as who will pay for any excess or unplanned surface damage while digging for any potential mineral resources.
Buying Texas land with minerals and other natural resources can be a profitable venture. It can also come with its share of headaches. Property owners, and those looking to buy property, should discuss any plans with mineral rights law firms to ensure they are getting what they believe they are purchasing. Mineral, oil and gas attorneys can help landowners determine who owns which estate, and whether accession of deposits on owned land is legal, as well as who is responsible for any damage caused during the process. Don’t be confused about mineral rights in Texas – seek the guidance of experienced mineral rights lawyers!
Watson Law Firm
1450 Copperfield Pkwy #300
College Station TX 77834
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