Surface Rights versus Mineral Rights. What North Dakota Residents Should Know.

With the Western North Dakota oil boom in full swing, it is important for North Dakota residents to know their rights. Knowing the difference between surface rights and mineral rights can prevent you from getting scammed and ensure you are receiving the monetary compensation you deserve. kno

Surface Estate vs. Mineral Estate- What is the Difference?

The difference between surface estates and mineral estates is very simple. A surface estate is the land or acreage that is visible to everyone. Surface rights always belong to the legal owner of the land.

However, the mineral estate is what lies below the surface. The minerals beneath the surface can belong to the surface estate owner OR the estates can be severed into two separate entities.

What are the Rights of a Surface Owner?

It is important for surface owners to know their rights.

A surface owner can:

  • Occupy or lease the property
  • Use the property however he/she wishes
  • Grant easements for access to and from the land
  • Produce the present surface materials (i.e. coal, sand, rock)

What are the Rights of a Mineral Owner?

A mineral owner’s rights depend on the type of ownership they have over the mineral rights.

  • The mineral rights owner can explore and produce surface minerals such as oil and gas.
  • In cases of royalty interest rights, the mineral owner has rights to income from developed minerals but cannot lease or develop the minerals.
  • All mineral rights owners may sell, lease or gift their mineral rights.

If you have questions about your surface or mineral rights, contact an experienced, professional attorney at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss.

To learn more about the basics of Mineral Rights, click here.

Image courtesy of Tim Evanson/Flickr