When someone purchases property in Texas, they may or may not receive ownership of the mineral rights to the property. Determining whether such minerals were conveyed with a property can be difficult for a buyer.
Mineral ownership can be (and often is) severed from surface ownership. Often, these severances occurred far in the past, leaving current owners unsure of their ownership status. A landowner that owns all or part of the surface and minerals of a property, the landowner could sell the surface rights of that property, but reserve the mineral rights, or an owner could convey the mineral rights to another party while still maintaining ownership of the surface rights of the property. Sometimes an oil or gas company that has a lease on the property can provide copies of their title research already done which could be helpful to the owner to make a determination of the status of any leases and mineral rights. Some oil and gas companies are willing to share this information, while others are not.
The owner should review the title insurance policy he or she got when they bought the property, however be aware that title companies no longer state any opinion as to mineral ownership. Remember that if the prior owner to the current owner did not reserve mineral rights when he bought the property those mineral rights conveyed to that owner. You can also obtain a special minerals title policy from the title company, but they are not inexpensive.
A landowner can do his or her own deed record search but this is such a complex issue that if the owner does not have experience in this field, it’s really not a good option. A landowner can also hire an oil and gas landman to conduct the title research, they have extensive experience in this field as they do it for a living for oil and gas companies.
Finally, you can hire an attorney to conduct the title research. As with most situations that involve an attorney, this can be expensive, depending on the situation.
Determining the ownership of the property a landowner owns or is seeking to buy is important for understanding the rights that landowner has as well as understanding the rights others may have.
Something else that is of importance is not only the mineral rights but the surface rights to the property. Having the surface rights is beneficial because as an owner you have more rights regarding the placement of roads and other uses regarding the surface of the property whereas without those surface rights, the oil and gas company leasing the property will have the say in many of those areas that will affect you.