Oil and Gas Ownership and Leasing Disputes
Disputes about oil and gas mineral ownership are becoming more and more common. Every time an oil and gas lease is signed, the oil and gas company will perform a title examination (or title search), to determine, among other things, that the person signing the lease is the actual owner of the oil and gas minerals and that there is no currently effective oil and gas lease. Oil and gas mineral owners are often shocked to hear that they own only half of the oil and gas or maybe not any of it. This is especially shocking for those who have previously signed oil and gas leases and have been paid bonuses.
At Gold, Khourey & Turak, our attorneys have represented countless people who have been told that their oil and gas mineral ownership is disputed. We work with the oil and gas company to determine the basis for their decision and then make our own independent determination as to the merits of that decision. Sometimes, it’s as simple as talking to the oil and gas company. Other times, there is a legitimate dispute and a quiet title action is needed. Our results in these cases speak for themselves. Call us today at (304) 845-9750 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation or live chat with us at GKT.com. Home, evening, and weekend appointments are available.
What is a Quiet Title Action?
A quiet title action is simply a lawsuit that seeks to resolve a dispute to a property’s title. In the oil and gas context, a reoccurring issue are oil and gas reservations and exceptions in decades-old deeds. For example, there may be an oil and gas reservation in a deed dating back to 1953 in a property’s chain of title. That reservation may be able to be construed in two different ways. Was the reservation a “current” reservation or was it copied from a previous deed? Did the reservation apply to a particular tract or parcel out of a multiple-parcel deed? Was the reservation a reservation of an oil and gas royalty interest or a reservation of the oil and gas “in place”? Long story short, if there are different, reasonable interpretations of an oil and gas reservation (or other) language in a deed or document, there is a “cloud” on the property’s title.
The oil and gas company will very likely not pay any bonus money or royalty money for any property that has a cloud on its title. The oil and gas company will hold any money until the cloud is “quieted.” All parties who can make a claim in their favor are made a part of the quiet title lawsuit. Once a judgment (or settlement) is reached, the oil and gas company will distribute any withheld bonus or royalty money according to the judgment or settlement.
The GKT Difference
At GKT, the first step in any oil and gas leasing or ownership dispute is to determine the basis of the dispute. As the oil and gas company is almost always the first to discover the dispute, our local oil and gas attorneys work with the company to understand the basis of the dispute and the deed or other language in the chain of title that creates the dispute. Our lawyers then perform an independent review to determine: (1) whether there is a reasonable and legitimate dispute; and, if so, (2) the strengths and weaknesses of the client’s right to the oil and gas minerals. Sometimes, there is simply an error on the end of the oil and gas company, and we can resolve the dispute without having to start a quiet title action. Other times, we agree that there is a reasonable dispute and start putting together the pieces in anticipation of filing a quiet title action.
While our local oil and gas lawyers are always willing and able to file a lawsuit, it is only done after exhausting all options to resolve the dispute. And, when that happens, GKT’s attorneys have the knowledge and experience to put together a winning case. GKT’s lawyers have litigated dozens of quiet title actions regarding oil and gas minerals over the last decade-plus. The results speak for themselves.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
It is imperative that you contact an experienced oil and gas attorney anytime you are told that you own fewer oil and gas minerals than you believe you do. That could happen when you don’t receive an oil and gas lease bonus or receive a lesser oil and gas lease bonus than expected. That could also happen when your property is placed into production and you don’t receive royalty payments while your neighbors do. The sooner an experienced oil and gas lawyer like those at GKT can get involved, the better likelihood of a successful outcome for the client.
GKT has been successfully representing oil and gas mineral and landowners since the start of the Marcellus and Utica shale booms. With a dedicated oil and gas practice, GKT’s ability to fight on behalf of oil and gas mineral and landowners is unparalleled. If you’re facing an oil and gas mineral title dispute, call GKT today at (304) 845-9750 or live chat 24/7 at GKT.com. We offer free, no-obligation consultations and handle cases in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.