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How should you face a request for minerals on your land?

If you're a landowner, whether you're a business or a personal owner of the property, you might one day be approached by an organization that wants to search under your land for minerals or oil. On the surface, it might sound like a great idea. If they find something, you're going to get part of the profits, right? The answer depends.

Did you know that you could own the surface of your land and not own anything beneath it? Mineral rights are a separate thing from land surface ownership, and they don't always come as a package. If you are being approached about what might lie beneath your land, then the first thing you need to do is determine who owns those rights. You can't really make any viable decisions until then.

Those experienced in land law and mineral rights matters often encourage landowners to seek assistance from a third party when facing questions about the resources under their land. It's important not to rush into any agreement and not to sign anything until all your questions are answered. You also need to know all of your rights as a landowner, regardless of what ownership type you have over your land.

If you don't own the mineral rights, you still have rights as the person or entity that owns the land surface. You might still profit from use of your land to obtain the minerals, oil or gas, especially if the extraction of that material disrupts your land in some way. Working with an experienced natural resource law professional can help you negotiate to protect your interests and rights.

Source: Oil & Gas Accountability Project, "Oil and Gas at Your Door? A Landowner’s Guide to Oil and Gas Development," accessed July 22, 2016

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