Other Restrictions of the Surface User Easement

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Other Restrictions Of The Surface User Easement

 

 Oil and gas development can easily conflict with existing or planned uses of the surface, whether in an urban or a rural setting. For example, the drilling of an oil well in the middle of a shopping center or a residential subdivision would be disruptive. Due to conflicts of these types, landowners have protected themselves by restricting the implied surface use easement that is incident to the mineral estate. The restrictions usually take the form of restrictive covenants appearing in deeds or leases. Some examples of these types of restrictive covenants are:

Disavowal Of Access Where

The Lessor Owns No Surface:

 

With respect to any of the Leased Premises as to which Lessor owns no surface rights or interests, except such rights to surface use as are incident to Lessor's ownership of the mineral interest, Lessee agrees that any and all necessary arrangements and agreements for access to and use of the surface by Lessee in conducting its operations hereunder shall be made directly with the surface owner(s), including settlement with such owner(s) for any surface or other damages resulting from Lessee’s operations.

 

Non-Interference With Surface Use

 

Lessee shall so conduct its operations hereunder as not to interfere unreasonably with Lessor in the operations of its business, and Lessee shall build and use only such roads as are reasonably necessary to conduct operations under this Lease, such roads to be built and used in such manner as to avoid, insofar as possible, disturbance of Lessor's growing timber and operations.

 

Pipeline Depth

 

When required by Lessor, Lessee will bury all pipe lines below ordinary plow depth...

 

Preventative Measures

 

Lessee shall provide at Lessee’s expense all necessary protective measures to prevent any loss or damage to the property of Lessor on account of any operations by Lessee, including protection for power lines, pipelines, and telephone lines.

 

Standard of Care

 

Lessee shall (i) conduct all operations on the Leased Premises in a good and workmanlike manner and in accordance with the standard of the best practices obtaining in like operations; (ii) comply with all laws and governmental regulations relating to the drilling of wells, production of oil or gas operations in connection therewith, including without limitation laws relating to fire hazard, fire prevention, abandonment of wells, the plugging of abandoned holes and the pollution of surface and under ground water supply; and (iii) furnish Lessor written approval of any regulatory bodies with jurisdiction thereover relating to the abandonment of any such well. In addition to complying with laws and regulations pertaining to standards of care in drilling for and producing oil and gas, Lessee shall operate at all times as a prudent operator and avoid damage to the land and subsurface formations, including damage by pollution.

 

Surface Use Fee

 

Lessee shall annually pay Lessor the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) for each acre of Lessor's surface lands utilized by Lessee for well sites, pits, cleared areas associated with well sites, and cleared areas utilized for gathering lines. The payments under this Section shall commence on the date that a well first produces or is determined to be capable of producing one or more Minerals in paying quantities and ending on the date that Lessee restores the surface of the Well Tract as required by this Lease.

 

Well Setback

 

No Well shall be drilled nearer than 200 feet to the house or barn on said land without the consent of the lessor.

 

 Any effective attempt to restrict the extent of the implied surface use easement, should involve contractual agreements with all owners of the easement. This would normally include oil and gas lessees, as the owners of the present surface use easement, the surface owner, and the owners of the mineral estate, as the holders of the reversionary interest in the easement.

Copyright 2011 by Edward G, Hawkins. All rights reserved.