Finding oil on your property may strike you as a blessing or annoyance, but either way it's important to understand the oil laws and regulations in place, as well as your own property rights. Here are some key things homeowners need to understand about oil and gas law.
What Does Oil and Gas Law Refer to?
In the United States, oil and gas law refers to the branch of law that deals with the acquisition, ownership rights, and adjudication of oil and gases both prior to and after extraction. These laws are federally regulated, but may also vary largely by state.
Who Has Oil and Gas Rights?
Oil and gas rights may seem like a complicated prospect, but it's really quite simple. Any person or entity that can legally purchase property can benefit from oil and gas rights. This includes, but is not limited to, the government (local, state, or federal), corporations, Native American tribes, and individual persons.
How Can It Affect My Property?
Generally, if you own property then you also own everything that is below that property, including any oil, gas, or minerals. These ownership rights work like any other commodity, in that they can be bought and sold regardless of the land that it is on. For instance, a property owner with oil-rich land may sell the rights to a company so they can excavate it. Oil rights may also be severed from a property through a will or previous deed. However, because oil is a liquid and can move through the ground freely, someone may legally drain your property's oil from another's land, as long as no property lines are crossed.
What Qualifications Does an Attorney Need to Practice Oil and Gas Law?
Oil and gas lawyers need to meet the same requirements as any other lawyer: they must pass the bar and be licensed to practice in that state. When looking for an oil and gas lawyer, you should focus on candidates with a solid background in property and contract law, but preferably an oil and gas law specialist.
When Should I See an Oil and Gas Attorney?
There are many reasons you should consult an oil and gas attorney. If you find oil on your property, you should contact an attorney to ensure your property has retained its ownership rights and to learn more about your local oil law regulations. Additionally, if you're wishing to sell the ownership rights to commodities found on your property or lease your land for oil extraction, you should seek legal representation to ensure you're receiving the best deal. Finally, an oil and gas attorney is useful when disputing lease violations, extraction methods, and oil and gas ownership rights.