Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Attributes of the Mineral Estate

Here in Texas, the state Supreme Court has attributed five "essential attributes" that imbue to the ownership of a severed mineral estate, including (1) the right to develop, (2) the right to lease, (3) the right to receive bonus payments, (4) the right to receive delay rentals, and (5) the right to receive royalty payments. 

The text of Texas Law of Oil and Gas, Second Edition then suggests that it might help to understand these attributes might be better understood by separating them into two types of of actions that a mineral fee owner might take.  The right to develop, which would include exploring, drilling, producing, transporting, storing, and marketing, as well as the implied right to use the surface in ways necessary to carry out said operations and the right to authorize others to do so. 

The remaining attributes would result from a transaction whereby the mineral fee owner grants the aforementioned rights to a mineral company (usually through what's called an "oil and gas lease").  The right to lease, listed second above, would also be referred to as the "Executive right," while the bonus (usually a lump sum payment on the execution date of the lease as consideration for transferring the right to develop), delay rentals (periodic payments for the right to defer drilling), and royalties (a right to a stated fraction or percentage of the value produced without any deduction for costs) are financial benefits that the lease usually provides to the executive right holder. 

Now, it's possible to have a lease situation where the parties have divided ownership of the mineral fee.  As an example, the text describes a situation where one person might share the lease royalty, but not the bonus or delay rentals, and then states that the situation in question would require a determination as to where another benefit (atypical) is a royalty.  Of course, the parties could always agree to a different arrangement. 

Moreover, it's important to note that a mineral owner is not required to choose only between choosing to lease or choosing to develop.  Other options, such as participating in a Joint Operating Agreement (for example), are available to the mineral fee owner as well.

There is more to this particular section, please read the text itself for a more thorough understanding - as I've mentioned before, this is more as a study aid for my personal benefit while buffering my knowledge base.

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