Ownership of land in Texas comprises mineral and surface rights or estates. Landowners may be in possession of one or both of these sets of rights, but mineral rights take precedence over surface rights, states TX.us. In practice, this means that mineral rights holders are entitled to freely exploit the surface estate to explore, develop and produce any oil and gas beneath, regardless of whether they are also in possession of surface rights.
Mineral rights in Texas may be exercised by holders or lessees of those rights by:
- Conducting seismic testing
- Drilling wells as desired
- Freely accessing and leaving the well sites and facilities
- Building and maintaining roads for the purpose of accessing well sites and facilities
- Building and using pipelines to the wells and facilities
- Using surface and subsurface water on the premises for the purposes of drilling and production
- Drilling and operating injection wells for the purpose of enhancing recovery and disposal of surface and subsurface water
Mineral rights may be legally exercised in Texas without seeking permission from the surface rights holder. Furthermore, any non-negligent damage caused to the surface estate is not the mineral rights holder's responsibility to restore. Owners of the surface estate should therefore purchase mineral rights for their property where possible, advises TX.us.