Increasing energy prices in the US are making extractions of minerals much more appealing to energy companies. This year US consumers can expect to pay approximately three percent more for electricity due to an unusually harsh winter that strained the Northeast’s grid and increased natural gas demand, even amid a boom in domestic production, according to US electricity prices are rising. Thank the ‘polar vortex.’
New methods of extraction such as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, which is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas, are making prior types of mineral resources more appealing to go after. For example, if there was a known oil field somewhere but it hadn’t been worth getting the oil out of the ground for the last twenty or so years, now, with these new methods, energy companies are going after the mineral rights owner of that property.
If you are a landowner, dormant mineral rights may have value now or in the near future but non-action may jeopardize your mineral rights. Processes like adverse possession may encumber your mineral rights, where, if you don’t use them, they might revert back to someone else. Additionally, energy companies who have oil and gas leases may not be able to keep their leases if they don’t use them. To find out if you have mineral rights to a property you need a specific type of title search done for that property.
A mineral right search that looks for any subsurface claim on a property will allow you to discover if you have mineral rights to oil, gas, or other minerals that are beneath the surface that a company might want to use for energy production. This type of search looks at the chain of title on a property by tracking back through previous owners and then chaining back forward through each one of the owners to see if the mineral rights were ever transferred or split off from the property. You won’t find any information about oil rights on a property deed. Normally the rights are transferred on a separate document. Most property deeds will not even mention who owns the mineral rights, if it is the current owner or if they have been split off in the past. If you or someone you know may have mineral rights to a property a mineral rights search may be of benefit, especially in the chance of potential adverse possession where the owner may lose their rights due to non-action.