Most states grant oil and gas operators access to the surface land, which is located above each reservoir to be drilled. The mineral is sometimes called the “dominant domain”. In other words, the mineral has the right to use the surface for the purpose of accessing underground hydrocarbons. This becomes complicated with the advent of horizontal drilling, as minerals may not really be developed under the surface drilling field as production areas may be located under other expanses. It`s best to start SUA negotiations with your goals in mind so that you end up with a deal to live with. * Pay attention to a consideration. Often, the mining tenant will require the surface owner to do something that is not authorized under the lease. For example, the oil and gas company may apply for a pipeline easement or a road easement above the property to reach another leased property. This is the perfect time to present a potential land use agreement and look for favorable conditions. If the operator and the owner of the surface cannot agree on the damage, some States grant the operator the right to carry out the development, with the damage to be determined retrospectively by arbitration or litigation. A surface use agreement is a voluntary agreement between the surface owner and the owner/lessee of the ore (usually an oil and gas company) that governs the relationship between the two parties.
In some states, such as Oklahoma and New Mexico, oil and gas companies are required by law to enter into these agreements before production begins. In Texas, unfortunately, there is no such legal protection for surface owners. Mining tenants are not required to enter into such an agreement, but are often willing to do so in order to have a good working relationship with the owner of the surface. With that in mind, Texas surface owners need to use every lever they have to convince an oil company to make this type of deal. In general, the SUA will define the permitted and prohibited activities of all parties to the Agreement. No matter which side you are on, make sure all agreements are written down to avoid future conflicts. .