Buying land without mineral/gas rights?
General Topic
Contributors to this thread:
Trad PA 27-Dec-21
Pete In Fairbanks 27-Dec-21
HDE 27-Dec-21
DanaC 27-Dec-21
Vonfoust 27-Dec-21
Shiloh 27-Dec-21
jstephens61 27-Dec-21
Dale06 27-Dec-21
Smtn10PT 27-Dec-21
MA-PAdeerslayer 27-Dec-21
Pat Lefemine 27-Dec-21
jstephens61 27-Dec-21
Pat Lefemine 27-Dec-21
Habitat 27-Dec-21
drycreek 27-Dec-21
[email protected] 27-Dec-21
Grey Ghost 27-Dec-21
kscowboy 27-Dec-21
Grey Ghost 27-Dec-21
Trad PA 27-Dec-21
Trad PA 27-Dec-21
jstephens61 27-Dec-21
Pat Lefemine 27-Dec-21
SteveB 27-Dec-21
Teeton 27-Dec-21
Grasshopper 27-Dec-21
Trad PA 28-Dec-21
Roper 28-Dec-21
Grey Ghost 28-Dec-21
Trad PA 28-Dec-21
drycreek 28-Dec-21
peterk1234 28-Dec-21
HDE 28-Dec-21
HuntheWind 29-Dec-21
Dale06 29-Dec-21
From: Trad PA
27-Dec-21
I live in PA and have generally done well on public land but the past few years have gotten pretty rough with the amount of people, stands, and cameras on every tree. I can afford around 40 acres or so based on some early research and may look to purchase land in the next 1-2 years. A lot of what I see in PA doesn’t convey gas/mineral rights, probably because of the amount of fracking in my area. Has anyone been through the buying process and told to avoid these parcels? The general feeling is that the owner can level your land at any time to extract gas but I’m not sure how true this is. I’ll eventually get the advice of a realtor but being that the land will be for hunting I figured I’d see if anyone here has been through the process. Thanks!

27-Dec-21
I'm not familiar with PA law, but surface and subsurface rights are "severable" in AK as well. While someone may own the subsurface under your parcel, they cannot "disturb" your surface use without compensating you.

I own several parcels where another entity owns the subsurface rights. If gold, or oil/gas are discovered under my parcels, I'm really fine with that, because I know then that I'm going to get rich too!

Pete

From: HDE
27-Dec-21
Depends on how the state is on surface and mineral ownership.

Some states are spilt estate and the surface can be stand alone from mineral rights. If you don't own the minerals and own surface only, the mineral owner can still lease their minerals out and an E&P company can drill a well on your property under lease rights.

A realtor likely won't know, but the state mineral office will know what's what.

From: DanaC
27-Dec-21
HDE, I'd be leery of a realtor who didn't know.

From: Vonfoust
27-Dec-21
I'd talk to an attorney not a realtor. If you are above the Marcellus and/or Utica you are probably not getting mineral rights.

From: Shiloh
27-Dec-21
Second for calling an expert mineral rights attorney

From: jstephens61
27-Dec-21
I spent 31 years doing regulatory work in the O&G production industry for IDNR. I can flat tell you, 95% of our complaints were from people how bought the ground and didn’t get the mineral rights. Here’s the problem, you buy the ground, mineral owner leases to a company, you show up to hunt and find a drilling rig sitting at your gate. You get roughly $500-$1,000 for damages. You have no say in where they drill. You may have some input on roads and tank battery locations. Well is in, now pumper shows up every single day while you’re out there hunting. You get to put up with all the BS with zero rewards.

If there’s wells in the area or gas development, I’d get the mineral rights or walk away from the deal.

From: Dale06
27-Dec-21
I have bought land in Ks. Mostly for long term investment, but turns out its a good hunting property. Some of the mineral rights were reserved by the seller for seven years. Those have expired. So I have 100% of the mineral rights. No way I’d not have the majority or 100% of the mineral right, if I was buying. Laws probably differ state by state. Get an attorney that specializes in real estate if you get close to buying. In many cases realtors are worthless on these matters.

From: Smtn10PT
27-Dec-21
I bought mine without mineral rights. Would have doubled the cost of the land and they have almost no value in my immediate area.

27-Dec-21
If you land is good, you will end up with rodways, gas pads and compressor stations on it. Trust me. Deal with it first hand in PA. Farmers dad sold the right to a company who then 20 years later showed up and started putting pipelines gas pads and compressor stations. Make sure you do your research! 40 acres isn’t much with gas pads everywhere

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Dec-21
I’m sure the above example is possible, but far from probable. I’ve owned land in PA since 1992 without mineral rights and have never seen anyone looking to explore or exploit those rights.

At my Ohio property, You can’t buy a parcel of ground in my area that still retains mineral rights because of the shale deposits in the area. In the 20 years since the minerals were sold off, nothing has changed.

Understand that much of the drilling now is horizontal and deep beneath your property. They still need your rights even if they drill a mile underneath your land to tap into a repository far away from your property.

Two of my three hunting properties don’t contain mineral rights and the odds that a pad show up are extremely low.

If the thought of a small chance of a well or exploration drives you crazy then by all means pass up that property. But understand that in some areas that means 90% of the properties available will be unavailable and the remaining ones will be more expensive.

The one caveat to this is timber rights. That’s a deal killer for me since it’s highly likely they will be exercised at some point where minerals will not.

Good luck!

From: jstephens61
27-Dec-21
About 6 miles from my house is a field that was one of the most active in the state from the 40’s through the mid 70’s. When I went to work in ‘88 it was considered an abandoned field. Remained that way until about 10 years ago. Two companies bought the rights from a company in Colorado and moved it and started drilling new wells. There’s about 1600 existing wells, but they drilled new.

Just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean it won’t. Drilling and exploration is price and technology driven. Look at horizontal high volume fracking. A lot of Texas and Colorado fields would be nonexistent without it. Pennsylvania and Ohio shale gas would never have happened. This is truly a buyer beware area.

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Dec-21

Pat Lefemine's Link
Here’s a good article that lays it out.

From: Habitat
27-Dec-21
Thats a pretty good article,rights differ so much from what part of country you are in and even how long oil production has been in the area.On my farm at one time it had some of the highest producing wells in the state.Even had a shanty town on it.Now there are 2 working wells.One of them has over 150 share holders the other less than 100.These are people that have inherited shares since the original investors put in well usually.But the oil company decides if they want to pump a well or drill another,they do have to pay me damage.I will say there are thousands of wells out there that are capped or non pumping that you can make them dig down and plug which gets rid of the eye sore and makes it less likely that it will be used again.I would always get a lawyer involved to look over easements of any kind.

From: drycreek
27-Dec-21
I’ve been in the oil and gas industry for over fifty years. When I bought my place I was well aware that there were wells right behind my place, hell I built two of the drill sites and cleared a pipeline right of way off my N line. At the time I bought my place, horizontal drilling and fracking were in their infancy and the wells behind me were about sucked out. Several years later new technology had energy companies drilling in new places as well as older places that hadn’t been fully utilized. So, long story short, the company that had the minerals under my place wanted to put a pad on me. It didn’t happen, mainly because they thought I would have been more trouble than it was worth and since they were drilling horizontally anyway, they could get on surrounding properties without much trouble and drill their wells. Make no mistake though, if they hadn’t had easier folks to deal with they would have done whatever they needed to do to drill on me and there would have been nothing I could have LEGALLY done about it. The “reasonable compensation “ means different things to different people and if you take them to court you’ll only prolong the agony and lose in the end, at least in Texas. I’ve been witness to it several times and as a contractor I and my employees usually bore the brunt of the irate landowner’s anger. :-)

27-Dec-21
I do business with a farmer who started with a pipeline and ended up with tank batteries and a big facility on his property. Screwed up a good chunk of his land but you should see the piece he bought with the proceeds.

From: Grey Ghost
27-Dec-21
Very little land is sold in Colorado with the mineral rights included. No property I've ever owned included them. It's not a problem until it becomes a problem, I guess.

Surface and subsurface water rights are another important consideration. I determined that the 4 natural springs and the sub-subsurface water rights on my place had never been adjudicated, so I went thru the adjudication process and now I own the water rights. They may potentially become more valuable than mineral rights.

Matt

From: kscowboy
27-Dec-21
It's a state culture thing. In Kansas, the land was settled by the Czech and German immigrants and the belief was that you owned from the center of the earth to the heavens above and that it was immoral to convey a piece of ground without the minerals. If you jump across the border into OK, the paydecks (list of mineral owners) is about 30 pages thick and has decimal interests that are as long as Pi.

As others have said, you will get surface damages but that will be nothing when roads are cut into your property and you have a pump jack in the middle of your favorite food plot.

From: Grey Ghost
27-Dec-21
No one every truly "owns" their land, they only own certain rights to their land, but not all. The government can always pull the eminent domain card, if they see fit. I'm dealing with that possibility as we speak. A large nearby wind farm wants to pull an underground power line thru my property. It would destroy some of the best wildlife habitat on my land. I'll fight it tooth and nail, but ultimately the power company has the eminent domain trump card. I'll lose that fight, if they can't be persuaded to change their proposed route for the power line.

Matt

From: Trad PA
27-Dec-21
Excellent info and confirms just how sticky of a situation it can be. My guess is any land I bought in the area I’m at has already been assessed for fracking potential and therefore low risk that I’d run into issues down the road if I didn’t own rights. I could also just look in a different area too I guess. An attorney is a great idea that I didn’t consider.

From: Trad PA
27-Dec-21
Excellent info and confirms just how sticky of a situation it can be. My guess is any land I bought in the area I’m at has already been assessed for fracking potential and therefore low risk that I’d run into issues down the road if I didn’t own rights. I could also just look in a different area too I guess. An attorney is a great idea that I didn’t consider.

From: jstephens61
27-Dec-21
Oil goes up to $150-$200 a barrel and watch what happens to those “marginal” areas.

See it before.

From: Pat Lefemine
27-Dec-21

Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
This buck is walking around my Ohio property where I don’t own mineral rights. The quality of the hunting ground outweighs any risk of mineral rights for me personally.
Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo
This buck is walking around my Ohio property where I don’t own mineral rights. The quality of the hunting ground outweighs any risk of mineral rights for me personally.
True, or the green energy crowd ultimately wins and those mineral rights are never utilized. Can go both ways.

Given a choice between a killer deer property without MRs and a substandard property with MRs, that decision is an easy one for me.

But regardless what any of us think, it’s definitely a risk/reward decision only you can take.

And not all minerals are the same. Oil is different than gas, silver is different than lithium. You have to understand what’s in your locale and assess each risk accordingly.

From: SteveB
27-Dec-21
Elon Musk is going to save all our hunting land by making electric vehicles. lol

I own land in Ohio some parcels with and some without mineral rights. I did lease my land to Chesapeake for nearly enough to pay for my land free and clear as when I bought it, I had no idea that the Marcellus was there. That was quite a windfall, and the 5 year lease expired without a well. That said, if you buy land without the mineral rights (in Ohio) you are taking a big risk as they have the right to get those minerals out and as the counsel said above, you get nearly nothing, just a few $$ a pad. They could negotiate with you to install a compressor on your surface, and you could do a bit better, but those noisy things would totally ruin your land. If you buy without mineral rights, make sure you perform due diligence to insure that the odds are stacked in your favor that strategically they will never want to go through YOUR surface to get the minerals out. I have done this with my parcels without rights and I assure you they will never want to use mine where they are located. The other option is to vote democrat and insure that oil and gas exploration is hindered and expensive. lol

From: Teeton
27-Dec-21
Trad Pa, I'd look in what areas your thinking of buying. Some areas of Pa you can't drill, some areas are just to far from good gas areas. I live in Susquehanna county, just south of Susquehanna in Lackawanna county and no gas companies wanted anything to do with gas leases there. Many of the leases have run out that was bought back in the gas (we'll call it gas rush days).. I see lots of land for sale with gas rights in my area. I don't think sells think anyone would what to buy land with out mineral rights, I'm guessing. Just to my east (Delaware water area) you can't drill. From my understanding most wells being drill now are on leases that companies bought the mineral rights out right, forever and pay no royalties.

Also I never understood why more cars are not running on natural gas.

27-Dec-21
I too own land in Ohio and do not hold the mineral rights. However I had an attorney draw up a deed restriction prohibiting things such as strip mining for coal and various other minerals as well as Fracking pads etc without my permission. The restriction is also written to pass on the my heirs in perpetuity. This could be another option for The OP.

From: Trad PA
28-Dec-21
Teeton, I’m actually in Susquehanna county too. My family lives on 20 acres and I’d like to open up our opportunities in the same area if possible. Part of me feels like any gas potential in the area has already been exploited but it certainly changed the face of the properties around their place. They’re surrounded by the noise, traffic, and lights from gas pads and all the farmers we know told us no more hunting. I can do ok on their 20 acres but it gets pressured fast if hunted wrong and I spend just as much time on public land. As I’ve said though, public the last few years has gotten tough and certainly less enjoyable. A 40-50 acre piece would be a nice addition especially if they sell their place as they get older.

From: Roper
28-Dec-21
My wife grew up in Potter county PA and her grandparents owned 300 acres of land there that they sold about 25 years ago. They sold the land but not the mineral rights so about 8or 9 years ago she gets a call from a lawyer representing the landowners that now own the land and they wanted everyone going back to when her grandparents sold the land to sign off on the mineral rights.

The owners had let Chesapeake Energy set up two big drilling pads and now they couldn’t drill. They had to research all the relatives from the grandmother up to children today and that’s a lot of people, lawyers got involved, people disagreed about the money and what should be done. The landowner is wealthy and had a big expensive law firm plus Chesapeake Energy on their side.

It turned into a big fight not only with the lawyers and landowner but the families too. About 100 family members scattered all over the country is hard to all think a like, some wanted to sell cheap and some thought they had hit gold. In the end the lawyers, landowner and the big Energy company are the ones that won, they had the means to get what they wanted. Anyone can say what they would do but when you’re up against those kind of people that know how this all works and are willing to spend what ever it takes to get what they want it’s not easy.

From: Grey Ghost
28-Dec-21
Buying property is always a mixed bag of pleasure and possible pain. Coincidentally, yesterday I received a public notice from the Winter Park zoning board. There's a vacant 3 acre lot immediately adjacent to our condo. It's one of the last undeveloped lots in the downtown area. A potential buyer and developer has proposed a monstrous Hilton-like hotel to be built on the lot, and they are requesting a zoning variance to increase the allowed density from 84 units to 120. The proposed structure would be 65 feet tall and tower over our condo a mere 10 feet away from our master bedroom. It would completely obscure any sunlight to our condo for all but the first few hours in the mornings. The public meeting is scheduled for 1/11/22, so it appears I will have to do some knocking on neighbors doors to rally support against the variance and the proposed project in general. If it's not one thing, it's another, damn it.

Matt

From: Trad PA
28-Dec-21
Teeton, I’m actually in Susquehanna county too. My family lives on 20 acres and I’d like to open up our opportunities in the same area if possible. Part of me feels like any gas potential in the area has already been exploited but it certainly changed the face of the properties around their place. They’re surrounded by the noise, traffic, and lights from gas pads and all the farmers we know told us no more hunting. I can do ok on their 20 acres but it gets pressured fast if hunted wrong and I spend just as much time on public land. As I’ve said though, public the last few years has gotten tough and certainly less enjoyable. A 40-50 acre piece would be a nice addition especially if they sell their place as they get older.

From: drycreek
28-Dec-21
SteveB, when and if oil goes to $100 a barrel or more, difficult terrain won’t mean anything. In fifty years of building drill sites and roads I’ve seen it all. If there’s enough money to be made they will spare no expense to build and drill. Buying land without mineral rights is like playing poker, some hands you win, some you don’t.

From: peterk1234
28-Dec-21
MA-PAdeerslayer is correct. You need to be 100% sure that there is nothing to mine on or near your land. The risk may be low (or not) but it is there. I am not sure I would ever buy land without owning 100% of the rights of that land. To put a dark twist on the subject; picture the government getting hold of those rights and using it to get rid of your use of the land. Think it can't happen?

From: HDE
28-Dec-21
The advantage of being the surface owner is when an E&P company forces their way on, you make them install 25 gates they have to open and close one by one all the way to the wellpad.

Horizontal drilling and "fracking" didn't save any fields.

DanaC, a typical realtor doesn't know squat about what a Landman does for an E&P and the realtor just flips real estate...

From: HuntheWind
29-Dec-21
As noted by others, get an attorney to handle this. It comes down to surface vs. non-surface rights. Hard to buy property around my area of Susquehanna County, PA that has minerals rights unless you have lots of $$$. When you are buying a property with no mineral rights you are only buying the surface rights, which may or may not have already been leased. Around here almost everything was leased or sold to gas companies/investors. The attorney can help with how the surface rights work. Gas production is still in full force in many areas here and appears for at least now the well pads and pipeline have already been built.

From: Dale06
29-Dec-21
What drycreek above said is spot on.when oils prices rise, drilling will increase, and companies will find a way to get to the location that they want to drill. It’s about the money. My wife’s parents land in Ks has not been drilled on in more than 50 years. There is a very poor road and rickety bridge to that land. Oil is getting higher. We have been notified, property will be drilled on shortly. And yes, we own the mineral rights.

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