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Oil/Gas/Right of Way for pipeline


I have a company that is telling me that they are going to put a pipeline across my land for something they are calling secondary recovery.  When I told them I didn't want them tearing up my property, they told me that they can do it because the lease says they can.  I don't own the minerals, so I didn't sign a lease with them.  Can they still do this even though I didn't give them permission?

I believe you are asking about what is called the "dominant estate doctrine" in Texas. If your land is not located in Texas, your question could require a complicated answer, which I am not prepared to provide at this time.  But if your land is in Texas, please read on.

No, they cannot build a pipeline across your property if there is not even one producing well physically located directly beneath your surface. By "physically located", I mean there must be at least some part of the perforated wellbore located directly beneath your surface. Your surface ownership is subservient to the mineral rights, meaning that technically, the mineral rights owner or their lessee must be granted reasonable use and access to your surface land for the very narrow purposes of exploring, drilling, and producing oil or gas.  

Another key requirement is "reasonable".  If no producing well in their C02 or water-flood secondary-recovery unit is located on your surface (as I already defined), your surface is not subservient to the minerals producing from another tract of land.  If the company believes that just because they filed a Designation of Unit and gathered the requisite 65% written approval of mineral rights estate owners in the lands pooled for the secondary recovery unit, they are quite mistaken if they think that these legal steps grant them the right to permanently "take" the use of your land for the purpose of a pipeline that will forever limit the use and enjoyment of your surface ownership.

If you will refer to the fourth edition of the book "Oil and Gas Law In a Nutshell" by John S. Lowe, on page 180 he states:

"A mineral rights lessee's right to use the surface is limited by at least five countervailing principles. The Lessee's use must be (1) a reasonable use, (2) in accord with the accommodation doctrine, (3) for the benefit of the minerals under the land leased, (4) in accord with the terms of the [oil and gas] lease, and (5) in accord with applicable statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations."

The accommodations doctrine means that there is no accessible alternate route for them to lay their pipeline without going across your property.  Also, the oil and gas lease may expressly state that any pipelines or permanent fixtures placed on the land can only be placed there after obtaining the permission of the surface owner--many leases created in the past 10+ years contain such a clause.

You are entitled to compensation for the use of your surface, regardless of whether or not the company has the right to put a pipeline across it without your permission.  Ask the company to negotiate a Pipeline Easement Agreement with you, then you should hire an oil and gas attorney to help you negotiate it.  You are entitled to a substantial bonus for signing it, plus you can ask for periodic rentals (can be annual) for each year that the pipeline is used, and for sure the agreement MUST contain the terms of who conducts and pays for removal of the pipeline once it is no longer being used.  If the company makes a move to try and come onto your property without a good-faith effort to negotiate a Pipeline Easement Agreement with you, you need to hire an attorney immediately, to protect you from damage and loss.  Good luck, and have a Marry Christmas and Happy New Year.


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Marsha Breazeale, M.Ed., CDOA, CPLTA


All questions regarding division orders; ownership decimal calculations; title ownership and payer record changes (testate/intestate inheritance; deed; assignment; court order); oil and gas lease analysis for record-keeping and purposes of payment by operator or payer; pooling, horizontal wells, horizontal well allocation units; unclaimed property reporting; royalty owner relations questions. All questions concerning administration of surface land contracts and payment questions, such as for Surface Right-of-Way, Sub-Surface Right-of-Way, Easement, Surface Use Agreement. All questions regarding industry-standard and company-specific policies that affect land owners.


Sr. Staff Division Order Analyst. Certified Division Order Analyst (CDOA, National Association of Division Order Analysts) and Certified Lease Analyst (CPLTA, National Association of Professional Lease and Title Analysts) with 35 years of experience as a combination division order analyst and lease analyst in exploration and production in the oil and gas industry.

National Assoc. of Division Order Analysts (NADOA), National Association of Division Order Analysts (NALTA), American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL), American Society of Trainers and Developers (ASTD)

"How an Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Company Operates" and "Principles of Oil & Gas Lease Analysis: Standard Clauses", Oil Patch Press; Articles in NADOA Magazine; LandFocus EDU Professional Training Manuals

Education/Credentials Management from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio; M.Ed. in Instructional Design from WGU Texas.

Past/Present Clients
Past 15 years: GeoSouthern Energy Corporation; Contango Oil Co./Crimson Exploration & Operating Inc.; Apache Corporation; BP America; Marathon Oil; Newfield Exploration

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