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In many countries, including Europe, oil and gas is owned by the national government, not the people. In comparison, the United States is unique. The extraction of this commodity is regulated by state statutes and common law. However, federal and constitutional law are referred to as applies to each situation.

Jurisdiction is not the only thing left to be determined on a state-by-state basis. These oil and gas laws apply to ownership, untapped oil and minerals, the extraction process, and the extracted product. Considering that the search for oil and minerals is part knowledge and part gamble, it is wise to be well-versed in oil and gas laws regarding these crude and necessary natural resources. To determine your rights or resolve disputes, you may want to seek legal representation with an Amarillo attorney.

Oil and gas laws start with ownership

Oil and gas laws are designed to establish not only right of ownership, but the extent of the property line, documentation and transference of ownership. Possible owners or clients include individuals, corporations, private individuals, Indian tribes, and local, state, or federal governments. The division and sale of oil, gas, and mineral rights can be exceedingly complex. Amarillo attorneys experienced in oil and gas law can help work through the complexities of mineral ownership.

Ownership extends downward and vertically from the property line. This sounds simple enough, but the first question is who gets to extract the resources within the property line? The oil and gas law states that unless there is a separate deed concerning oil and gas rights on the parcel, the resources belong to the surface landowner. If the owner chooses to, they can sever their right to the oil and gas on their property. Once that happens, the rights can be sold and transferred like any other piece of property. However, this does not apply to offshore oil supplies, which are contracted out by federal or state governments for commercial development. After surface ownership or severance of mineral rights have been firmly established; it is time to move on to the extraction phase. If determination of ownership seemed hazy, extraction regulations are all the more convoluted.

Oil and gas extraction laws are contradictory

Once fees or deeds to oil and gas rights are secured, the real work begins. You now have to extract the oil and gas, but you must abide by applicable laws and stay inside the specified property lines. To complicate matters, there are two seemingly contradictory extraction oil and gas laws on the books: rule of capture and correlative rights. One or the other can be applied to allow operators to access the sought-after supply and can vary state to state. These laws may contradict each other, but they still apply to the property line boundaries. Amarillo attorneys well versed in oil and gas law can sort through the maze of contradictory regulations.

Obtaining an attorney for legal representation

When seeking legal representation to resolve your issues, you need to do some investigation of your own to protect yourself. It is vital that you find an Amarillo attorney that has experience with regard to the specific oil and gas laws issues you need help with. There are three categories of attorneys who offer representation for oil and gas law:

  1. In-house company attorneys that help businesses defend their rights and deal with legal issues. These attorneys usually use a “boots on the ground” approach by getting a landsman to investigate the physical property and report back to the attorney.
  2. Private party attorneys, especially in the interest of gas rights sales to a company.
  3. Governmental attorneys with experience in areas such as environmental conservation, energy policies, and land acquisition.

There are several nonprofit resources for oil and gas law representation located around the country. You may also consult with the local bar association for attorneys in Amarillo who have experience in the practice of oil and gas law. We invite you to contact our experienced legal team at Sprouse Shrader Smith, PLLC. Our Amarillo attorneys have experience in all aspects of oil and gas law as well as other practice areas. Give us a call today at (806) 468-3300 or Contact Us via email. We have locations in Amarillo, Austin, and Victoria, Texas as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma.