The U.S. is one of the few countries that allows a private individual to own minerals, also known as mineral rights. Mineral rights vest an owner with the authority to explore for, develop, and produce hydrocarbons and other minerals below the surface.

However, mineral owners aren’t typically undertaking these capital-intensive activities themselves. Instead, mineral owners grant leases to oil companies that put together large blocks of acreage for drilling and development. This concept may seem straightforward, but understanding how to determine mineral rights ownership can be complex.

Read on to learn more about how mineral rights ownership works. Or, if you think you may own mineral rights, you can fill out the form below for a free mineral rights search.

Mineral Rights Search Form

Mineral Rights Ownership Explained

Simply owning land does not automatically transfer the property’s mineral rights to you. In the U.S., mineral rights can be sold separately from the land’s property rights. If this happens, the land is a split estate, meaning the mineral rights have been severed from the surface rights. A split estate can occur in multiple ways:

  • Retaining mineral rights but conveying the land: In this situation, a deed states the land is transferred, but the mineral rights remain with the seller.
  • Conveying the mineral rights but retaining the land: In this case, a separate mineral deed is given to the mineral rights purchaser.
  • Conveying the mineral rights to one person and the land to another: In this scenario, someone sells the land and mineral rights to different people.

These scenarios show that you may not be privy to the minerals underground even if you own the land.

Do You Own Mineral Rights?

Depending on where your property lies, having ownership over the minerals underneath your land may not be of great significance and will have little (if any) impact on your property value. For example, if your property lies within an area that’s not prospective for the development of oil, gas, or other minerals, the market value of your minerals separate from the surface won’t be much.

However, if you live in a region (think 36 square mile radius) where there are existing wells and/or ongoing drilling operations, you should know if you own the rights to the minerals underneath your property, which requires a mineral rights search. You can begin conducting your mineral rights search in several places, such as:

  • County records: Every real estate transaction is recorded by law within the property’s county; call the clerk and recorder’s office to see if they have searchable online records, if not, you may need to pull files on-site.
  • Probate records: Sometimes an estate gets probated but the resulting documents don’t get properly recorded with the county; county court records can be handy in filling in some gaps.

How Are Mineral Rights Passed Down?

If someone in your family who retained mineral rights passes away, those rights are passed down. This type of inherited mineral rights is known as fractionalized ownership. Fractionalized ownership occurs when the mineral rights belong to two or more people.

Inherited mineral rights can become problematic when they are passed down for many generations to multiple family members. When mineral rights ownership becomes larger and more diversified, it can cause conflicts and prohibit or delay any mineral rights sale. Alternatively, mineral rights can be split amongst family members in specified acres to eliminate shared ownership of an entire area and future conflict. These have tax implications as well.

Free Mineral Rights Search

To determine your mineral rights ownership, trust us with your mineral rights search. At Rocking WW Minerals, LLC, we have a vast knowledge of the mineral industry and use a technical, driven approach to ensure you get all the necessary information about your mineral rights ownership.

With our classic cowboy ethics, we can help you dig up any information for your search. Fill out our free mineral rights search form above and start today!