Houston Chronicle Guest Column: Drilling revolution presents problems for landowners

09/04/2011

With oil and gas drilling comes the rumbling. First, trucks and equipment arrive to build well pad sites, then fluid used in hydraulic fracturing is hauled away. These sights, sounds and smells have the potential for disrupting residential life - especially as drilling approaches cities and towns.

There is another rumble growing across the heavily populated Barnett Shale in North Texas and the Marcellus Shale stretching from Ohio to New York.

That's the rumble of litigation.

Until now, news coverage of our nation's growing energy revolution has spotlighted fracking's alleged risks to groundwater quality. Fracking is a method that aids extracting oil and natural gas from deep shale rock formations by using fluids under high pressure to crack rocks.

Largely uncovered are new lawsuits brought by surface landowners who do not own the mineral rights under their land. At some point, the mineral estate was severed and sold away. When the typical landowner purchases land, he doesn't concern himself with what is beneath it. Conflict comes when the mineral estate owner leases his rights to an oil and gas company and the company needs to get on the land to extract minerals.

Excerpt from the Houston Chronicle, Sept. 4, 2011. To view the full article, click here.

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