25 CFR 226.21 - Procedure for settlement of damages claimed.
Where the surface owner or his lessee suffers damage due to the oil and gas operations and/or marketing of oil or gas by lessee or his authorized representative, the procedure for recovery shall be as follows:
(a) The party or parties aggrieved shall, as soon as possible after the discovery of any damages, serve written notice to Lessee or his authorized representative as provided by § 226.18. Written notice shall contain the nature and location of the alleged damages, the date of occurrence, the names of the party or parties causing said damages, and the amount of damages. It is not intended by this requirement to limit the time within which action may be brought in the courts to less than the 90-day period allowed by section 2 of the Act of March 2, 1929 ( 45 Stat. 1478, 1479).
(b) If the alleged damages are not adjusted at the time of such notice, Lessee or his authorized representative shall try to adjust the claim with the party or parties aggrieved within 20 days from receipt of the notice. If the claimant is the owner of restricted property and a settlement results, a copy of the settlement agreement shall be filed with the Superintendent. If the settlement agreement is approved by the Superintendent, payment shall be made to the Superintendent for the benefit of said claimant.
(c) If the parties fail to adjust the claim within the 20 days specified, then within 10 days thereafter each of the interested parties shall appoint an arbitrator who immediately upon their appointment shall agree upon a third arbitrator. If the two arbitrators shall fail to agree upon a third arbitrator within 10 days, they shall immediately notify the parties in interest. If said parties cannot agree upon a third arbitrator within 5 days after receipt of such notice, the Superintendent shall appoint the third arbitrator.
(d) As soon as the third arbitrator is appointed, the arbitrators shall meet; hear the evidence and arguments of the parties; and examine the lands, crops, improvements, or other property alleged to have been injured. Within 10 days they shall render their decision as to the amount of the damage due. The arbitrators shall be disinterested persons. The fees and expenses of the third arbitrator shall be borne equally by the claimant and Lessee or his authorized representative. Each Lessee or his authorized representative and claimant shall pay the fee and expenses for the arbitrator appointed by him.
(e) When an act of an oil or gas lessee or his authorized representative results in injury to both the surface owner and his lessee, the parties aggrieved shall join in the appointment of an arbitrator. Where the injury complained of is chargeable to one or more oil or gas Lessee, or his authorized representative, such lessee or said representative shall join in the appointment of an arbitrator.
(f) Any two of the arbitrators may make a decision as to the amount of damage due. The decision shall be in writing and shall be served forthwith upon the parties in interest. Each party shall have 90 days from the date the decision is served in which to file an action in a court of competent jurisdiction. If no such action is filed within said time and the award is against Lessee or his/her authorized representative, he/she shall pay the same, together with interest at an annual rate established for the Internal Revenue Service from date of award, within 10 days after the expiration of said period for filing an action.
(g) Lessee or his authorized representative shall file with the Superintendent a report on each settlement agreement, setting out the nature and location of the damage, date, and amount of the settlement, and any other pertinent information.