Besides being the second-largest state, Texas is also a leading mineral producer in the US. The state shares its borders with an offshore area with significant natural resources, and if it were to be a country on its own, then it would be the sixth-largest oil producer in the world.
This is a good thing for the residents as it means the stakes of discovering minerals beneath their land are pretty high. If you recently came across minerals and have no idea what to do, here is all you need to know about your mineral rights in Texas:
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There is a Difference between Surface and Mineral Rights
One of the first things you should know is that under Texas state laws, the surface of the property and the minerals beneath are perceived as two separate areas of legal interests. Below is a breakdown of each to help you understand better.
● What are surface rights?
Surface rights offer you the legal right of ownership and control over the surface of the land where the minerals exist. Usually, when you sell a piece of land, both the surface and anything beneath it is transferred to the new owner.
However, in Texas, it is possible to make an exception and sell only the minerals beneath it and keep the surface. Note, if this isn’t expressly reserved in the sale agreement, both the surface and the minerals are passed on to the new landowner.
● What are mineral rights?
When people or enterprises state that they have mineral rights in Texas, it means they own the minerals found beneath a particular piece of land. Any oil, uranium, natural gas, sulfur, or salt found beneath that piece of land belongs to them.
However, it is critical to note that if any other minerals apart from the mentioned are discovered, then they belong to the surface owner. Texas laws dictate that the mineral estate owner can only claim the minerals if they specifically named them during the buying transaction. Also, any groundwater found on the piece of land belongs to the surface owner.
What Happens When I Sell my Mineral Rights in Texas?
When you sell your mineral rights in Texas, you transfer the right of ownership to another person or entity. This automatically gives the new owner the right to use the surface estate for mineral exploration and production. Under Texas law, the new mineral estate owner is allowed to use as much of the surface as reasonable for exploration. Therefore, they can enter your property, build roads, install pipelines, store equipment, and whatever they have to do to extract the minerals beneath.
What Happens When the New Mineral Estate Owner Damages the Surface?
Surface damage is inevitable due to the mining process. So, what happens or who becomes liable for the damages caused on the surface?
Well, as mentioned, the mineral estate owner – now, in this case, the company which bought the mineral rights is allowed to use as much of the surface as is reasonably necessary for exploration. The best option for a surface owner in Texas is to be involved in negotiations and agree with the mineral owner during the sale. This is essential as it allows you to set your terms before the transfer of ownership. For instance, you and the mineral rights buyer can agree that the surface estate should be restored to the same condition it was in before the exploration began. You could include a damage clause in the agreement that requires the buyer to pay a certain amount before the exploration begins to cover any surface damage. Alternatively, you could sell both the surface and mineral rights.
Are you considering selling your mineral rights in Texas? The above guide includes all you need to know about the transaction. However, as a person who accidentally discovered minerals on your property, chances are you know very little about selling these rights. Therefore, it’s essential that you let an expert walk you through the process so you can get what you rightfully deserve from the transaction.