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Property ownership does not automatically grant mineral rights

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2023 | Oil & Gas Law

Property rights can belong to two different parties, especially in resource-rich states like Oklahoma and Texas, where gas and oil play a crucial role in the economy. A property owner might only have surface rights, which is the right to access and use the land to build structures. When we own the rights to the surface of real property, that does not necessarily mean we own the minerals of that property. The mineral rights are a whole other separate real property, specifically the property below the surface of our land.

Why should mineral rights matter to property owners?

Mineral rights grant a person or company the legal capacity to extract the minerals beneath the surface. Mineral rights precede surface rights because it allows the state to garner revenue and develop land. Therefore, more job opportunities and resources become available to the people. Even if a property owner does not own mineral rights, access to the minerals must still be given to them.

It might also be important to note that property ownership can grant us some, if not all, rights to the subsurface minerals depending on the purchase or lease agreement. It is essential to understand and carefully review the title records of the land before obtaining ownership rights to it. However, surface rights owners can still earn from the minerals regardless of whether they own the rights to them.

Maximizing surface rights

Because surface rights allow us to control what happens on the surface, a property owner with surface rights can earn from the minerals regardless of ownership. The mineral owner may lease a portion of the surface to be able to drill and excavate. The mineral and surface owners can enter into a surface use agreement that gives the former easier and quicker access to the minerals for a share in the profit or a contract price.

When an individual or entity exercises their rights to the minerals underneath the surface of our land, we still have a say in the process.