Q: We own 83 acres of timber but not mineral rights. We have several homes (children) on our property and a cluster well.
We do not own mineral rights. Just received call from driller advising they will be drilling oil on our land. How do i protect our homes timber and water source?
In Texas, the mineral estate is the dominant estate. That means that the mineral owner and the oil company have the right to make all reasonable uses of the surface for exploration, drilling and production of oil and gas.
The Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency which regulates oil companies, has rules that say that oil company activities can't be any closer than 300 feet to an existing structure, such as your residence. In addition, Texas courts have recognized that there are certain limits on the right of the oil company to use the surface. These limits are not in a statute, they have been created by court decisions. Each landowner's situation is decided on a case-by-case basis. You should immediately contact an oil and gas attorney to determine how these limits might apply to your property and then have the attorney contact the oil company to negotiate a surface use agreement to protect your property and that may provide for payment of damages to you and that will be signed by both you and the oil company. It's not recommended that you try this on your own without the input of a knowledgeable oil and gas attorney.
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