The oil and gas industry is a powerful player in our state’s economy. Agriculture is another pillar. As the vast majority of Texas land is privately owned, the success of oil and gas companies often depends on securing mineral rights and easements from private landowners. And that can create a clash of interests.
As a landowner, dealing with oil and gas representatives can be intimidating. How can you protect your rights? How can you ensure that you’re getting a favorable deal? Consider these tips:
- Know the strength of your bargaining position. Several factors go into that determination. How badly does the oil or gas company need your land? Do they have eminent domain power? If they don’t have the ability to force an easement through eminent domain, you may have more leverage in securing a better deal.
- Get specific. Overly broad easements allow the company to walk all over you (and your land). Limit the easement in every way possible. Specify the number of pipelines allowed; their geographic location; their width, depth and configuration; their diameter and pressure; the products allowed to run through them; and other details. The easement should also address the construction of the pipeline as well as access, maintenance and surface disruptions.
- Get a lawyer. Now is not the time to skimp on legal advice. The oil and gas company surely has a team of powerful, experienced lawyers on their side. You need a professional advocate as well. The right lawyer can not only help you negotiate a stronger deal, but also draft an easement that includes safeguards for your position. They can also address any disputes that crop up along the way.
As you can see, pipeline easements are a unique beast, involving agricultural considerations, real estate law, contractual concerns and environmental matters. Don’t attempt to navigate these complexities alone.