When there are separate owners for the mineral and surface estate of a piece of land land, how can mineral estate owners extract the oil and gas they own without ownership of the surface? In her Texas REALTOR® magazine article, Tiffany Dowell Lashmet, assistant professor and extension specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, explains that the law regards the mineral estate as the dominant estate and the surface estate as the servient estate with regard to the extraction of minerals. This means the mineral estate has certain rights implied by law that the surface estate must honor. In other words, the surface estate must sometimes “serve” the mineral estate.
However, there are limitations on the rights of the mineral estate.
- The uses must be reasonable.
- The mineral owner may not act in a negligent manner.
- Texas recognizes the accommodation doctrine.
- Operators should follow the “Common Courtesy Act.”
Learn more about what is allowed and what isn’t in Lashmet’s article, “Get Clarity Around the Dominant and Servient Estates.”
This article does a great job of explaining the mineral issue.
Champions School of Real Estate
Farm and Ranch Instructor
I love reading Tiffany’s articles, but while this article highlights on the extraction of minerals, it passes by the importance of the surface owner, i.e.,servient estate. The surface owner OWNS the ground water under his land. And water is crucial to the extraction of O&G from underground. Even today, the O&G (Operator) has to consider where they will get water for their operations. Why? Because the surface owner is not obligated to give up any water rights to the Operator. He can sell the Operator his water or he can keep it, forcing the Operator to buy/pipe in water from… Read more »