These safeguards require surface owners to be informed of things such as the start date of drilling, a copy of the operating plan, contact information for the operator, etc. They also require compensation for certain surface disorders such as the installation of pipes. Beware of a quid pro quo opportunity. Often, the mineral tenant requires the surface owner to do something that is not allowed in the rental agreement. For example, the oil and gas company may try to facilitate pipelines or facilitate the route through the property in order to obtain another leasing package. This is the ideal time to find a possible agreement on the use of the surface and look for favorable conditions. Counsel explained to me that if debtors and a surface owner cannot agree on the terms of a surface use contract, debtors still have access to the surface land to the extent necessary to use the mineral property under implicit relief. Be respectful and realistic. Because oil and gas companies are not required to sign a Surface Use Agreement, surface owners are not in a negotiating position.
This is important when you talk to the company and ask questions. By respecting the company representative and realistic about the conditions that should be included, a surface owner is much more likely to get a surface use agreement. A Surface Use Agreement is a voluntary agreement between the surface owner and the owner/mineral tenant (usually an oil and gas company) that regulates relations between the two parties. In some countries, such as Oklahoma and New Mexico, oil and gas companies have a legal obligation to enter into these agreements before production begins. In Texas, unfortunately, there is no legal protection for surface owners. Mineralpese is not obliged to enter into such an agreement, but it is often willing to do so in order to have good cooperation with the surface owner. In this context, owners of Texan surfaces must use any leverage to convince an oil company to enter into such an agreement. In general, the SUA will disburse the authorized and prohibited activities of all parties to the agreement. Regardless of which side you go, make sure all agreements are made in writing to avoid future conflicts. If the operator and the landowner are unable to agree on damages, some states grant the operator the right to continue the development, with damages to be determined in hindsight through arbitration or litigation. Be aware of old abandoned appliances or potential contamination problems. If this type of problem exists, it could be a starting point for a debate on the need to protect the use of the surface.
If a surface owner is concerned about pollution or safety issues, he or she has the right to contact the Texas Railroad Commission and request a review/assessment of the situation. Knowing that an oil tanker and a gas accelerator may be more inclined to work with a surface owner, if these problems exist, in order to avoid RRC`s involvement. Request an operational meeting. Upstream, it is a good idea to meet with the mineral tenant and have a meeting to discuss operational issues.